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Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021

Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021

NJ sexual harassment attorneys advise clients on how new federal law might affect their claim

A federal law enacted in March 2022 makes substantial changes to forced arbitration provisions in sexual assault and harassment cases. This legislation that could help many employee victims who previously didn’t have a chance to bring their claim to court. At Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C., we are experienced employment law attorneys serving New Jersey. If you’ve faced sexual assault or harassment on the job, our firm will explain how the new law might affect your case. If legal relief is available, we will press for the remedy you deserve.

Changes in federal law give victims of sex-related bias their day in court

The Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021 prohibits employers from enforcing any type of class-action waiver or predispute arbitration clauses when a worker brings a sexual assault or sexual harassment claim. This amends the provisions of the Federal Arbitration Act for employment law cases arising from these types of allegations.

The law specifically applies to two types of legal agreements, which are:

  • Predispute arbitration agreements — A predispute arbitration agreement is a contract that requires an employee to have their claim decided in an arbitration proceeding before filing a lawsuit. These agreements are common in the workplace, but can cause problems in matters arising from sexual assault or sexual harassment claims because it means that a victim cannot raise their allegations in a public forum. Many of these arbitration agreements are standalone contracts while others are included within an overall employment contract.
  • Predispute joint-action waivers — A predispute joint-action waiver is a legal contract that requires the employee to waive their right to participate in a joint case, class action or other collective action if widespread mistreatment exists. This reduces the ability of workers to fight back against pervasive sexual misconduct.

The law does not directly end all arbitration in these matters. Instead, it gives the employee or employees the option to invalidate the prior agreement. It also bars employers from enforcing these agreements against the worker’s will. An employee may still choose arbitration or other alternative dispute resolution methods if they prefer.

How do these changes affect New Jersey sexual harassment lawsuits?

Previously, federal law pre-empted the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) and its prohibitions against mandatory arbitration clauses. Now, both federal law and the LAD invalidate mandatory arbitration agreements in claims involving sexual assault and sexual harassment allegations.

Other elements of the legislation that affect New Jersey sexual assault and sexual harassment cases include:

  • The statute applies to predispute waivers. If an employee agrees to arbitration after a claim arises, that agreement may still be enforceable.
  • Disputes that arise on or after March 3, 2022 are covered under the law. Employers may be able to enforce arbitration requirements in cases involving allegations of misconduct prior to that date depending on the facts of the case.
  • Arbitration and class-action waivers may still apply to employment law claims that do not relate to sexual harassment or sexual assault.

Our attorneys understand the latest developments in federal and state employment law and use that to help mistreated workers get justice. We will analyze the facts in your case to determine what rights you have to compensation in a sexual harassment or sexual assault case.

Consult a knowledgeable NJ and NY sexual harassment attorney for help

Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in Hackensack represents employees in sexual discrimination and sexual assault cases throughout New Jersey and New York. If you have a sexual assault or sexual discrimination issue, contact us online or call us at 551-245-8894for a consultation regarding your case.

Neil  H.  Deutsch Attorney Photo
Neil H. Deutsch
Retired

About Neil H. Deutsch has been practicing law for over 35 years and is known as a skilled negotiator in employment and discrimination law. He believes in a bottom-line approach of risk analysis and cost effectiveness for his clients. "Case evaluation is something we take seriously," says Mr. Deutsch who seeks top net dollar for…

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Bruce L. Atkins
Senior Partner

About Bruce L. Atkins is regarded as one of New Jersey’s premier practitioners of employment and civil litigation. He has been selected to the New Jersey Super Lawyers prestigious list every year since 2005.  This honor, bestowed upon a recipient by the votes of his peers, is a powerful nod to the skill Mr. Atkins…

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Adam J. Kleinfeldt
Partner

About Adam J. Kleinfeldt joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in March of 2015.  He primarily represents individuals in employment litigations such as discrimination, retaliation, and whistle blowing matters.  He has extensive experience in all phases of the litigation process. Adam has obtained significant results for some of his clients, including a $525,000 jury verdict…

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Diane Englander Peyser
Attorney

About Diane Englander Peyser joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in September 2018 where she represents employees in wrongful termination, retaliation, harassment, and discrimination matters. Prior to joining Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C., Diane represented clients in all aspects of employment law on behalf of employees involving unemployment appeals, claims of sexual harassment, LGBT discrimination,…

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Debra M. McGarvey
Attorney

About Debra M. McGarvey joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in December 2019. She has extensive experience defending employees and employers in state and federal court in employment litigation matters. She has represented clients on various issues arising out of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA),…

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