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Bustos Bill to End Forced Arbitration

Moline Congresswoman Cheri Bustos speaking in the US House on Monday
Moline Congresswoman Cheri Bustos speaking in the US House on Monday

A bill to protect possible victims of sexual assault and harassment has passed the US House and now goes to the Senate. The Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act, was proposed by Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, of Moline and Illinois' 17th District.

She spoke Monday in the House.

"My bill would make it illegal to enforce agreements that mandate third party arbitration, which is a type of legal dispute resolution, that is conducted behind closed doors and often favors the employer."

She says millions of Americans are subject to this legal clause at their jobs, but also through signing property leases, ride share applications, in nursing homes, and even for grocery deliveries.

"That terms and conditions box that we've all simply checked off after downloading an app or hiring a service that might just have an arbitration clause hiding in it ready to strip away your right to go to court if you've been sexually harassed or sexually assaulted and you choose to go to court."

Her bill has widespread, bi-partisan support, and could be voted on by the Senate this week.

Bustos says she came up with the idea after reading several years ago about 69,000 women suing a company (Sterling Inc.) where years of sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination had stayed secret because of forced arbitration.

A native of Detroit, Herb Trix began his radio career as a country-western disc jockey in Roswell, New Mexico (“KRSY, your superkicker in the Pecos Valley”), in 1978. After a stint at an oldies station in Topeka, Kansas (imagine getting paid to play “Louie Louie” and “Great Balls of Fire”), he wormed his way into news, first in Topeka, and then in Freeport Illinois. While a graduate student in the Public Affairs Reporting Program at the University of Illinois at Springfield (then known as Sangamon State University), he got his first taste of public radio, covering Illinois state government for WUIS. Here in the Quad Cities, Herb worked for WHBF Radio before coming to WVIK in 1987. Herb also produces the weekly public affairs feature Midwest Week – covering the news behind the news by interviewing reporters about the stories they cover.