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Arbitration agreement in employee rights case sparks backlash

Women who believe they have been sexually harassed on the job and had other employee rights violated are increasingly willing to lodge complaints over how they have been treated. This is true in New York and across the nation. Even with the increased willingness to speak up about illegal workplace discrimination, civil rights violations and sexual harassment, hindrances remain in place. One concern that dissuades many from speaking up is forced arbitration. Common in the corporate world and present in other careers, being limited in options and forced to pay significant sums due to forced arbitration can be problematic.

In one recent case, forced arbitration has sparked New York State lawmakers to speak out about how a woman was treated not just by employers and coworkers, but through the arbitration process. In the case, the professional services company Ernst & Young is accused of mistreating a female employee who complained about sexual harassment and illegal workplace discrimination when she filed her case in 2018. The woman was a partner and stated that she was sexually harassed and was subject to wage discrimination. This was said to be prevalent against women at the company with statements made about their bodies amid other inappropriate comments.

The company denied her claims. The problem for her was that she was obligated to pay $185,000 for the case to be heard through forced arbitration. She requested that the arbitration agreement be invalidated because sexual harassment and discrimination victims should not be forced to pay these sums for a claim to be heard. The lawmakers wrote a scathing letter about this practice. In a separate case, another female who was a partner at the firm stated she was harassed and groped.

Workers who are at companies and jobs large and small, well-paid and not can face various forms of discriminatory practices and harassment. There are many sticking points that will prevent them from speaking out. Frequently, it is fear that they will not be believed or that there is little that can be done to stop the behavior and recover compensation. However, forced arbitration is another concern.

What should be fully understood is that people who are subjected to discrimination and harassment must speak out to prevent it from continuing and to be appropriately compensated. A law firm that understands all perspectives in an employment case must be contacted for advice. When thinking about a lawsuit, a firm with experience in employment law for employees should be contacted for a consultation and representation.

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