The Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment (SASH) Act, recently passed by Biden, amends the Federal Arbitration Act of 2021 that prohibited sexual assault and harassment victims from bringing the lawsuit to court and forced them to arbitrate their legal claims. The Act further prohibits employers from requiring pre-dispute arbitration and mediation agreements relating to sexual harassment and assault from being filed under tribal, state, or federal law. Congress experienced a bipartisan split, but eventually, the Act received overwhelming bipartisan support, and they passed the ending of forced arbitration and mediation agreements on February 10, 2022. Soon after, President Biden signed the SASH Act into law on March 3, 2022. The Act is straightforward and contains the following provisions:
- Prospective plaintiffs can choose whether to litigate their sexual harassment or assault in court or through arbitration, mediation, and negotiation.
- The victims can choose to bring the suit individually or as a class-action lawsuit.
- The court case is decided by a federal judge and not an arbitrator.
- The new law could apply retroactively, meaning that pending forced arbitration cases are now voidable. However, past concluded cases cannot be reopened or taken to court.
- The Act is not limited to the employment context but also to other spheres where clients, consumers, and patients have signed contracts forcing them to contemplate arbitration vs. mediation to settle legal claims.