The recent #MeToo revelations have stunned the American society, and these revelations have somewhat proved the urgent necessity of a cultural revolution. Of course, the attitudes need to transform. But the public policy has a significant part to play here. Employment Law reformation can be highly beneficial.
Over 60 million Americans have limitations owing to employment contracts. These contracts push them to file their complaints against harassment by male colleagues. But choose arbitration instead of court. This practice must cease to exist as soon as possible via hashtags. Women have been attracting attention to forced arbitration.
What Is Forced Arbitration?
Forced arbitration or mandatory arbitration prevents the employees from taking an employer to court based on harassment in the workplace. In case a worker files a lawsuit against their respective employers for harassing them, they don’t become eligible for a public hearing. On the contrary, the company would, in all probability, appoint a private arbitrator to settle things. Arbitration policies are pretty common in cases of booth blue-collar and white-collar jobs in the United States.
Outside America, it’s not all a common practice. It’s needless to mention that such policies are made to benefit the individual who is blamed for harassment. Companies have the upper hand in arbitration since the proceedings are not devoid of impartiality, much unlike what happens in court. There is no need for arbitrators passing judgments in favor of the company to explain their decision. Moreover, it becomes impossible for the victim to appeal against the decision.
Since When Has Forced Arbitration Been in Practice?
Forced Arbitration isn’t anything new. It has been in practice since the year 1925 when Congress passed the Federal Arbitration Act. The act was set up to guarantee that two parties would peacefully and respectfully resolve whatever issues they have between them. However, a ruling by the Supreme Court in the year 1911 changed the whole scenario. A change that will benefit those who were accused of harassing female colleagues at the workplace.
A study in 2018 found that contracts bind over 60 million employees in the United States. This states that they have no other choice but to avail of forced arbitration. If they have any complaints against their employers, such is the sorry state of affairs. Such contracts have armed those employers who never think twice before plaguing their professional and personal lives as well.
Are Times Changing?
The famous #MeToo movement has brought the abusers of female dignity under the spotlight. It has also exposed the arbitration policies and the way they have shielding the offenders from any punishment that they deserve. The companies have a significant role to play here. They can’t deny the fact that it is actually for them that the accusers are going to scot-free. However, the scenario is changing. The credit goes to the employees and activists who are raising their voices in protest. A project named Force the non-profit movement has launched the Issue, Grab Your Wallet Alliance, and its primary purpose is to force around 900 companies to discard the forced arbitration policies.
Over 20,000 employees from Google walked out and staged a protest against the company’s practices of forced arbitration and unethical processes of decision making in 2018. It took the company just a week to end its practice of mandatory arbitration, and all related contracts ceased to exist from thereon. Several other companies such as Uber, eBay, Square, Lyft, and Facebook have set examples in revoking any agreement that safeguarded the interests of the abusers.
What Steps Are Being Taken by the Lawmakers?
With changing times, the Democratic Lawmakers have brought the FAIR Act into action. This particular act would prohibit forced arbitration as a requisite for employment. The onus is on the employees now to decide how they would want to resolve an issue.
Several industry groups are opposing the implementation of this particular act. But the worldwide protest via the #MeToo campaign is getting the better of them.
Arbitration isn’t suitable many a time and often, downright unjust. Every complainant should have a right to take a dispute to court. This should be on the card as and when necessary. Victims must get an opportunity to express what they have been going through. There should be no second opinion about it.