CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey recently joined a bipartisan coalition of 56 states and territories urging Congress to end secret, forced arbitration in cases of workplace sexual harassment.
Morrisey said employees often are required to sign employment contracts containing arbitration agreements mandating that sexual harassment claims be resolved through private arbitration instead of the judicial process. The secrecy surrounding these proceedings can protect serial violators and provide inadequate relief to victims.
“While there may be benefits to arbitration provisions in other contexts, they do not extend to sexual harassment claims,” he said. “Victims of such serious misconduct should not be constrained to pursue relief from decision makers who are not trained as judges, are not qualified to act as courts of law, and are not positioned to ensure that such victims are accorded both procedural and substantive due process.”
The attorneys general letter sent to leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate asks Congress to pass legislation to ensure that sexual harassment victims have a right to their day in court.
The letter states that Congress has the opportunity and cause to champion the rights of victims of sexual harassment in the workplace. It can do this by enacting legislation to free victims from the injustice of forced arbitration and secrecy when it comes to seeking redress for egregious misconduct condemned by all concerned Americans.
West Virginia joined attorneys general from every state, D.C. and five U.S. territories in the letter: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.