Victims of Sexual Misconduct Testify Against Forced Arbitration
“I felt very unsafe,” Ms. Spottiswoode said. “I was very afraid for my life and well being.”
Natalie Cerny, a spokeswoman for Afiniti, said in a statement on Tuesday that the company had investigated Ms. Spottiswoode’s claims “with independent counsel and concluded that the arbitral decision she references was erroneous.”
“Zia Chishti strongly disputes all accusations against him,” Ms. Cerny said.
The legislation, which was introduced by Representative Cheri Bustos, Democrat of Illinois, and Representative Morgan Griffith, Republican of Virginia, has bipartisan support and would end forced arbitration for survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment.
An identical version of the bill was recently passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The House committee is scheduled to vote on the legislation on Wednesday. If it passes, it will go before the House for a full vote.
Sarah Parshall Perry, a legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, testified against the legislation, saying that arbitration should not be conflated with confidentiality clauses. Under federal law, she said, employees are allowed to disclose what occurred in arbitration hearings, report what happened and take their complaints to other public agencies.
She warned that the legislation could force more cases into federal court and lead to longer, more expensive legal proceedings that would not benefit employees or hold “bad actors” accountable.
“The very premise of this hearing, that arbitration keeps victims of sexual violence and harassment in the shadows, suggests a solution to the problem of harassment and discrimination that’s ultimately misguided,” Ms. Parshall Perry said. “Curtailing access to arbitration would injure, in the end, the very people that Congress has sought for nearly a century to protect.”
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