Victims of Sexual Misconduct on the Job Testify Against Forced Arbitration

From today’s New York Times:

Former employees of the technology company Afiniti, the broadcaster CBS and the luxury giant LVMH shared accounts of sexual abuse, rape and harassment with a congressional committee on Tuesday, experiences they said they had been required to keep quiet because they had signed contracts with “forced arbitration” clauses.

The testimony, which implicated executives at the companies, came as the House Judiciary Committee was considering legislation that would abolish forced arbitration for victims of sexual assault and harassment. Forced arbitration often requires an employee to go through a private proceeding with his or her employer after bringing an accusation of workplace misconduct, according to legislators.

Although arbitration clauses do not prevent employees from going to the police in the event of a serious crime, companies often make signing them a condition of keeping or getting a job. Paired with confidentiality clauses, they can have a chilling effect on reporting misconduct.

The witnesses were all women who worked in different fields and described a range of experiences of misconduct, from verbal harassment to outright assault. They testified for hours, under protection of congressional subpoenas.

Tatiana Spottiswoode said that in April 2016, she had begun working for Afiniti, a medical-device technology company founded by Zia Chishti, whom she described as a multimillionaire and a family friend who had known her since she was about 12 years old.

Ms. Spottiswoode, who was about 23 at the time, said she had signed a contract that included “an arbitration agreement with a strong confidentiality clause.”

Read the complete story here.