TO THE MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce strongly supports S. 3143, the “Resolving Sexual Assault and Harassment Disputes Act of 2021.” Sexual assault is a horrific crime, and victims of sexual harassment in the workplace should not be silenced as they pursue justice. We stand with these victims against their abusers. Members of Congress who cosponsor this legislation will receive credit for the Leadership component of the Chamber’s “How They Voted” scorecard.
S. 3143 provides that workplace victims of the violent crime of sexual assault would not be subject to mandatory arbitration provisions in employment contracts. It also sets forth numerous robust rights in arbitration for victims of sexual harassment, including the right to report harassment and to speak out publicly. Importantly, this bill also protects sexual assault and harassment victims’ recoveries in any claims they may bring in arbitration or in court from being unreasonably reduced by attorneys’ fees and costs. It would ensure that victims rather than attorneys are paid first, and that victims receive the majority of any reward.
S. 3143 protects victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment, while avoiding overbreadth that would prevent employees and businesses from using arbitration as a means of resolving disputes in other contexts. Nor does it contain a carve-out that would allow labor unions to use pre-dispute arbitration to resolve their disputes while denying the use of arbitration to others. Arbitration provides a fair, effective, and less expensive means of resolving disputes compared to going to court. Empirical studies demonstrate that employees in arbitration do just as well, or in many circumstances, considerably better, than in court. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, the flexibility of arbitration served complainants and businesses alike well as arbitration cases proceeded on schedule, while courthouses were forced to close their doors and developed significant backlogs that still present a challenge today.
The Chamber strongly supports S. 3143, the “Resolving Sexual Assault and Harassment Disputes Act,” and we urge Senators to cosponsor this important bill.