By Justin Chermol
As tech giants like Google and Facebook continue to face scrutiny for their treatment of workers, Democratic-sponsored legislation in Congress is aiming to end the practice of forced arbitration to resolve employee complaints.
"This arbitration process is a secret process that employers love, and so workers are uniting against these features in their employment agreements," the bill's House sponsor, Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), told Cheddar's J.D. Durkin.
The purpose of the bill, Johnson explained, is to "get at protecting the rights of individuals to seek redress in the courts when they've been harmed, especially in a civil rights setting, a sexual abuse, or a sexual harassment, or sexual discrimination case would be covered under the FAIR Act."
A Senate companion to the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act, known as the FAIR Act, was sponsored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who said the legislation will "increase Americans' right to seek justice and accountability through the court system."
Just last month, Google became the latest company to end the practice of mandatory arbitration after a series of worldwide walkouts from its employees.
"I commend the workers at Google for putting the pressure on Google, and Google has decided to no longer have these types of clauses in their employment agreements," Johnson said. "I think that it is a trend that will continue throughout the high-tech industry and it should work its way down to other industries as well."
Forced arbitration requires a company's employees to resolve disputes in private arbitration, rather than through the courts. The requirement has been subject to increased criticism as issues of workplace discrimination and sexual harassment have been spotlighted in recent years by the #MeToo campaign and other civil rights movements.
Former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson, who accused Roger Ailes of sexual harassment in 2016, is among those advocating for the bill.
Despite Carlson's support, the bill has not yet received the backing of congressional Republicans. Johnson, however, said he is optimistic that some of his GOP colleagues will recognize that the legislation supports a fundamental constitutional right.
"I expect many of my friends who lean libertarian will see the importance of preserving and protecting the Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial, which this legislation does," he said. "And I expect that we will see more Republicans come on board and co-sponsor this legislation."
"There are some, and there are more than just a few, who take their oath to uphold the Constitution seriously," he added. "Even more seriously than their loyalty to their party, or to the current president."
For full interview click here.