On EEOC’s Decision to Rescind Policy Against Forced Arbitration in Bias Cases

New York, NY—Following is a statement by Hugh Baran, staff attorney with the National Employment Law Project, responding to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s 2-1 vote to rescind its 1997 policy statement that “agreements that mandate binding arbitration of discrimination claims as a condition of employment are contrary to the fundamental principles” of the civil rights laws enforced by the EEOC: 

“The EEOC’s decision to rescind this guidance gives a green light to employers to expand their use of forced arbitration requirements, which already cover more than 60 million workers in the non-union private sector. Faced with forced arbitration requirements, most employees simply never file claims at all, directly undermining Title VII’s ability to eradicate harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

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“Forced arbitration requirements deny workers the right to have their claims heard by a judge and jury, and are deeply damaging to their ability to enforce federal equal employment and opportunity protections—particularly for black women in low-wage industries, who are the most likely to be subject to forced arbitration. Forced arbitration requirements are also frequently accompanied by confidentiality provisions. The net result is a dangerous culture of silence, as has been highlighted by the #MeToo movement, that protects perpetrators and stymies accountability for sexual harassment and assault—as well as for wage theft and other employer lawbreaking.”

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