Lesko Introduces Bipartisan “Carrie’s Law” to End Mandatory Arbitration for Physical Sexual Assault
Washington, October 16, 2020 | Rachel Harris (202-417-0746)
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (R-AZ-08) and Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA-37) introduced Carrie’s Law, a bill to end mandatory arbitration in instances of physical sexual assault. The bill was inspired by Carrie Bobb, an Arizona native and California resident who was physically sexually assaulted at a corporate event. Due to an arbitration clause in her employment contract, Carrie was unable to have her case heard in court, and was forced into a confidential process, which left her silenced.
“In July 2019, I met with Carrie Bobb and heard her compelling story about the need to end mandatory arbitration in instances of physical sexual assault,” said Congresswoman Lesko following the introduction of the bill. “Unfortunately, Carrie’s experience of helplessness following physical sexual assault due to mandatory arbitration is not unique; women around the country are experiencing similar circumstances. I’m proud to introduce the bipartisan Carrie’s Law with my friend and colleague Karen Bass to help women across our nation.”
In 2018, Carrie Bobb’s career as a commercial real estate broker was skyrocketing, until a National Retail Director from her company drugged and raped her at a corporate event. Because she unknowingly signed an arbitration agreement when she signed her employment contract, she could not use the judicial process and was prevented from discovering similar cases. This process shields predatory directors from compounding allegations. If Carrie was able to warn other women, or take him to court publicly, it’s possible subsequent incidents could have been prevented.
“What I love about this bill is that it is taking a horrific experience and turning it into something really beautiful and powerful,” said Bobb. “It takes the risks off the employee, off the employer, and puts it back on the predator where it belongs.”
Carrie’s Law establishes a narrow prohibition on pre-dispute arbitration agreements by making any clause mandating the use of arbitration as the only avenue for conflict resolution unenforceable for claims of physical sexual assault. Under this legislation, a victim may choose to bring their physical sexual assault claim out of arbitration to handle in civil court. An accompanying claim (i.e. hostile work environment, negligent supervision, etc.) that is based upon the initial claim of physical sexual assault may also be brought out of arbitration to be litigated. If the physical sexual assault claim is dismissed with prejudice by a court, then the entire matter is dismissed and may be dealt with under the relevant arbitration agreement. The time period for which the relevant pre-dispute arbitration agreement is valid will be tolled while the matter is pending before a Federal Court.
The bill is endorsed by Allstate, Dempsey Construction, Intel, Microsoft, and Uber. The legislation will now be referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary where Lesko and Bass both serve.
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