Mar 3, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Biden signs landmark #MeToo bill

Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson joins Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer at a press conference following the passage of the Ending Forced Arbitration act. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Biden on Thursday signed into law landmark workplace legislation that forbids companies from forcing sexual harassment and assault claims into arbitration, a widely criticized way of settling litigation outside the public court system.

Why it matters: The law, the Ending Forced Arbitration act, is the first major piece of legislation to come out of the upheaval of the #MeToo era.

  • Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) told Axios it was "the most significant piece of labor legislation passed in this century."
  • The law is a win for former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson, who's credited with bringing together a diverse and cross-party group behind the bill.
  • The members include Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Bustos (D-Ill.).

Details: The law is going into effect immediately, meaning that provisions within millions of worker contracts around the country will be null and void. Workers will no longer be forced to take claims of sexual harassment or assault to private arbitration.

  • "Women and men will now have a choice to make their stories public and seek justice in a more equitable way," Carlson, told Axios on Thursday morning.

What they're saying: "This is a momentous day for justice and fairness in the workplace. And for those who experienced sexual harassment or assault, you're going to have the right today that you did not have yesterday — that's good news," Biden said at the signing ceremony. "I'd also argue that it's good for the employers."

  • Biden called for a ban on forced arbitration in all cases.
  • Carlson, who attended the ceremony, said the law "proves that both parties can come together to get good things done," adding that the law will "stop the bad behavior, because now everyone will know that women's voices can be heard."

What's next: Employers can still force workers to take all kinds of other complaints to private dispute resolution — including civil rights claims over race, and pay inequality.

Go deeper: Congress passes landmark #MeToo bill with sweeping bipartisan support

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