Huffington Post recently called out Facebook for using a forced arbitration policy to deal with employee sexual harassment claims. This could be an awkward time for one of the largest companies to have this kind of policy in place, since women and men are more vocal about discrimination and sexual harassment now than ever before.
Sexual harassment is constantly in the forefront of the news. Victims are fighting back, but not all of them are familiar with forced arbitration. Arbitration is a way of resolving disputes between two parties without having to resort to court action. It is done privately by an independent, neutral third party such as an arbitrator or a mediator. The arbitration can be done voluntarily or be made mandatory.
When voluntary, both sides agree to arbitrate, resolve the issue, and stick with the decision. Mandatory or forced arbitration is when a company requires an employee to submit a dispute, such as discrimination or sexual harassment, to binding arbitration as a condition of their employment. Furthermore, the employee must waive their right to sue or appeal. This can put the employee at an extreme disadvantage.
Change Issued for Forced Arbitration
Forced arbitration is written into many employment contracts. According to Huffington Post, Facebook requires forced arbitration for employee legal disputes, specifically sexual harassment. Many feel that this process is a secretive practice that serves to silence victims, and does not prevent the occurrence of repeated harassment in the workplace.
Although Facebook representatives have defended their policy, they also stated that they have never had a sexual harassment arbitration take place. Their stance might be unclear and their position on the issue could change in the future, especially given the strength of the MeToo movement.
The landscape for legislation may be changing, although nothing is definite yet. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL) introduced the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Harassment Act last December. This bill would make forcing employees to take sexual harassment suits to arbitration illegal and gives them a choice of going to court. The bill even has bipartisan support in Congress. However, Huffington Post writes that it is not likely that the bill will be brought to the House anytime soon.
Be Aware of Sexual Harassment Policies
Many employees are not aware of what their employer’s sexual harassment policy entails. If you did not read your employment policy carefully, you might have missed the fact that they employ a forced arbitration policy. Employees have a much lower chance of winning a forced arbitration case than they would in state or federal court. This is made even worse by the fact that the monetary damages awarded are much lower.
Even if a company professes that it is against sexual harassment, incidences still occur on-the-job. Well-intentioned companies and their leaders simply cannot prevent every incidence of harassment that takes place on their watch.
New Jersey Sexual Harassment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Help Clients with All Aspects of Sexual Harassment Cases
If you are a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, your voice needs to be heard. New Jersey sexual harassment lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. will fight for your case and obtain the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 215-569-1999 or contact us online for a free consultation. We are centrally located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and we proudly serve clients from the surrounding areas, and throughout the state of New Jersey.