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Bustos Bill to End Forced Arbitration

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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.