Katz Banks Kumin partner Debra Katz authored an opinion piece for the Washington Post titled, “30 million women can’t sue their employer over harassment. Hopefully that’s changing.” The statistic, calculated by the Economic Policy Institute, shows that since the mid-1990s, mandatory arbitration clauses have become ubiquitous in the workplace.
Arbitration heavily favors employers. Unlike in court, potential witnesses are often kept in the dark about the proceeding and therefore cannot testify, discovery is limited, and the public never knows about the legal claims. Not only does this arrangement make justice elusive for victims, but it allows harassers, such as Fox’s Roger Ailes, to engage in repeated misconduct over a long period of time – free of the types of consequences that public knowledge would bring. This clearly broken system has facilitated workplaces where harassment is committed without repercussions, and victims have had little choice but to suffer silently.
A number of state legislatures, as well as Congress, have proposed bills barring mandatory arbitration for sexual harassment, but so far only Washington State has succeeded, and few others seem promising.
This is why Ms. Katz argues that business leaders follow in the footsteps of Microsoft, and remove such clauses from their employment contracts. It takes leadership to surrender such a one-sided arrangement, but it is a move that will tremendously benefit women – and everybody – in the long run.
Read the full article here.