Gretchen Carlson, Democrats Push Bids To Rid Forced Arbitration Clauses
Journalist Gretchen Carlson was on Capitol Hill March 7, 2017 in order to push for legislation to stop the use of unfair forced arbitration clauses. The former Fox News anchor is teaming up with Sens. Al Franken, D-Minn., Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., as well as three Democratic congressmen.
Arbitration agreements are agreed to before an employee can accept a job, at a time where either there is no thought of a possible dispute or where a person just disregards the agreement because they either really need or want the job. Consumers also agree to these arbitration clauses all the time when using products such as credit cards or Uber. Companies utilize these because they are much less costly to them and they can shop for forums that are favorable to big business. Arbitration clauses are very problematic for consumers and employees because they restrict access to the court system where an impartial jury can decide a case.
In October, Carlson said she would testify before Congress after the election about these forced arbitration clauses. Carlson argues that forced arbitration is a process that relegates discrimination and harassment claims to "covert operations.” Arbitrations are not public record like court proceedings and are frequently very informal because they do not have any sort of court rules that govern them. Given her high profile and the public discussion of sexual harassment that she inspired, Carlson stands a better chance than many of the warriors who have fought and lost battles to make forced arbitration illegal.
Carleson's fight against forced arbitration clauses started after she was a victim of sexual assault at her workplace, Fox News. In July, Carlson sued Fox News’ former chairman Roger Ailes of sexual harassment. Fox tried to move the case to arbitration, arguing that Carlson had signed a contract agreeing to a confidential, closed-door proceeding. Carlson shot back that she could indeed sue because she was going after Ailes, not Fox. When Fox and Carlson agreed last month to a $20 million settlement, the tiff over venue became moot. Because of Carlson's high profile she is able to speak out and reveal the details of the abitration process, many others are not so fortunate and their claims are secretive and allow the employer or company continue business as usual.