On February 10, 2022, the Senate passed H. 4445, the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act (the “Act”), by a voice vote.  The bill had previously passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 335-97. The White House has indicated President Biden will sign the bill.

If enacted, the Act would amend the Federal Arbitration Act to prohibit enforcement of mandatory pre-dispute arbitration agreements, as well as agreements prohibiting participation in a joint, class or collective action in any forum, “at the election of the person alleging conduct constituting a sexual harassment dispute or sexual assault dispute, or the named representative of a class or in a collective action alleging such conduct.”  The Act also provides that any dispute concerning whether a claim falls within the scope of the Act’s prohibitions will be decided by a court and not an arbitrator, irrespective of whether the arbitration agreement at issue purports to delegate such determinations to an arbitrator.

A “sexual assault dispute” is defined as one “involving a nonconsensual sexual act or sexual contact, as such terms are defined in section 2246 of title 18 or similar applicable Tribal or State law, including when the victim lacks capacity to consent.”  A “sexual harassment dispute” is defined as one “relating to conduct that is alleged to constitute sexual harassment under applicable Federal, Tribal, or State law.”

The new restrictions would apply “with respect to any dispute or claim that arises or accrues on or after the date of enactment of this Act,” meaning that once enacted, millions of American workers could elect to be released from existing arbitration agreements and/or class and collective action waivers as relating to sexual harassment and sexual assault claims that arise after the law goes into effect.  However, because the law only addresses pre-dispute arbitration and class/collection action waiver agreements, any agreement to arbitrate claims entered into by the parties after the claims arise remains enforceable.

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Photo of Guy Brenner Guy Brenner

Guy Brenner is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and leads the Firm’s Washington, D.C. Labor & Employment practice. He is head of the Government Contractor Compliance Group, co-head of the Counseling, Training & Pay Equity Group and a member…

Guy Brenner is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and leads the Firm’s Washington, D.C. Labor & Employment practice. He is head of the Government Contractor Compliance Group, co-head of the Counseling, Training & Pay Equity Group and a member of the Restrictive Covenants, Trade Secrets & Unfair Competition Group. He has extensive experience representing employers in both single-plaintiff and class action matters, as well as in arbitration proceedings. He also regularly assists federal government contractors with the many special employment-related compliance challenges they face.

Guy represents employers in all aspects of employment and labor litigation and counseling, with an emphasis on non-compete and trade secrets issues, medical and disability leave matters, employee/independent contractor classification issues, and the investigation and litigation of whistleblower claims. He assists employers in negotiating and drafting executive agreements and employee mobility agreements, including non-competition, non-solicit and non-disclosure agreements, and also conducts and supervises internal investigations. He also regularly advises clients on pay equity matters, including privileged pay equity analyses.

Guy advises federal government contractors and subcontractors all aspects of Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) regulations and requirements, including preparing affirmative action plans, responding to desk audits, and managing on-site audits.

Guy is a former clerk to Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the US District Court of the District of Columbia.

Photo of Tony Oncidi Tony Oncidi

Anthony J. Oncidi is the co-chair of the Labor & Employment Law Department and heads the West Coast Labor & Employment group in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including…

Anthony J. Oncidi is the co-chair of the Labor & Employment Law Department and heads the West Coast Labor & Employment group in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including litigation and preventive counseling, wage and hour matters, including class actions, wrongful termination, employee discipline, Title VII and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, executive employment contract disputes, sexual harassment training and investigations, workplace violence, drug testing and privacy issues, Sarbanes-Oxley claims and employee raiding and trade secret protection. A substantial portion of Tony’s practice involves the defense of employers in large class actions, employment discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination litigation in state and federal court as well as arbitration proceedings, including FINRA matters.

Tony is recognized as a leading lawyer by such highly respected publications and organizations as the Los Angeles Daily JournalThe Hollywood Reporter, and Chambers USA, which gives him the highest possible rating (“Band 1”) for Labor & Employment.  According to Chambers USA, clients say Tony is “brilliant at what he does… He is even keeled, has a high emotional IQ, is a great legal writer and orator, and never gives up.” Other clients report:  “Tony has an outstanding reputation” and he is “smart, cost effective and appropriately aggressive.” Tony is hailed as “outstanding,” particularly for his “ability to merge top-shelf lawyerly advice with pragmatic business acumen.” He is highly respected in the industry, with other commentators lauding him as a “phenomenal strategist” and “one of the top employment litigators in the country.”

“Tony is the author of the treatise titled Employment Discrimination Depositions (Juris Pub’g 2020; www.jurispub.com), co-author of Proskauer on Privacy (PLI 2020), and, since 1990, has been a regular columnist for the official publication of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the State Bar of California and the Los Angeles Daily Journal.

Tony has been a featured guest on Fox 11 News and CBS News in Los Angeles. He has been interviewed and quoted by leading national media outlets such as The National Law JournalBloomberg News, The New York Times, and Newsweek and Time magazines. Tony is a frequent speaker on employment law topics for large and small groups of employers and their counsel, including the Society for Human Resource Management (“SHRM”), PIHRA, the National CLE Conference, National Business Institute, the Employment Round Table of Southern California (Board Member), the Council on Education in Management, the Institute for Corporate Counsel, the State Bar of California, the California Continuing Education of the Bar Program and the Los Angeles and Beverly Hills Bar Associations. He has testified as an expert witness regarding wage and hour issues as well as the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and has served as a faculty member of the National Employment Law Institute. He has served as an arbitrator in an employment discrimination matter.

Tony is an appointed Hearing Examiner for the Los Angeles Police Commission Board of Rights and has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law and a guest lecturer at USC Law School and a guest lecturer at UCLA Law School.

Photo of Evandro Gigante Evandro Gigante

Evandro Gigante is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-head of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration group and the Hiring & Terminations group. He represents and counsels clients through a variety of labor and employment matters, including allegations of…

Evandro Gigante is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-head of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration group and the Hiring & Terminations group. He represents and counsels clients through a variety of labor and employment matters, including allegations of race, gender, national origin, disability and religious discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, defamation and breach of contract. Evandro also counsels employers through reductions-in-force and advises clients on restrictive covenant issues, such as confidentiality, non-compete and non-solicit agreements.

With a focus on discrimination and harassment matters, Evandro has extensive experience representing clients before federal and state courts. He has tried cases in court and before arbitrators and routinely represents clients before administrative agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as well as state and local human rights commissions.

Photo of Laura Fant Laura Fant

Laura Fant is a special employment law counsel in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-administrative leader of the Counseling, Training & Pay Equity Practice Group. Her practice is dedicated to providing clients with practical solutions to common (and uncommon) employment concerns…

Laura Fant is a special employment law counsel in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-administrative leader of the Counseling, Training & Pay Equity Practice Group. Her practice is dedicated to providing clients with practical solutions to common (and uncommon) employment concerns, with a focus on legal compliance, risk management and mitigation strategies, and workplace culture considerations.

Laura regularly counsels clients across numerous industries on a wide variety of employment matters involving recruitment and hiring, employee leave and reasonable accommodation issues, performance management, and termination of employment . She also advises on preparing, implementing and enforcing employment and separation agreements, employee handbooks and company policies, as well as provides training on topics including discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Laura is a frequent contributor to Proskauer’s Law and the Workplace blog and The Proskauer Brief podcast.

Photo of Theresa Madonna Theresa Madonna

Theresa Madonna is an associate in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the Employment Litigation-Discrimination, Harassment & Title VII Practice Group and the Employment Counseling and Training Group.

During her time at Proskauer, Theresa has focused on a wide…

Theresa Madonna is an associate in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the Employment Litigation-Discrimination, Harassment & Title VII Practice Group and the Employment Counseling and Training Group.

During her time at Proskauer, Theresa has focused on a wide range of employment matters, including employment discrimination litigation and client-counseling. She has assisted in representing employers in litigation and investigations related to claims of workplace harassment, discrimination, retaliation and wrongful discharge. In addition to her litigation practice, Theresa counsels clients regarding employee policies, handbooks, offer-letters and noncompetition and independent contractor agreements. She has gained experience across a wide variety of industries including health care institutions, education, real estate, media and entertainment, financial services and sports. As part of her pro bono practice, Theresa represents individuals in immigration matters and provides employment counseling to non-profit organizations.

Theresa earned her J.D. summa cum laude from Boston University School of Law, where she was a member of the Boston University Law Review and a Legal Research and Writing Fellow. During law school, she was a clinical student attorney and represented clients in employment, housing, and family law matters. Additionally, she interned for the Honorable Juan R. Torruella of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Theresa also received Boston University School of Law’s William L. and Lillian Berger Achievement Prize for exemplary scholastic achievement.

Prior to law school, Theresa was an in-house paralegal at a Boston-based technology company.

Photo of Ariel Brotman Ariel Brotman

Ariel Brotman is an associate in the Labor & Employment Department and a member of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration Group. She represents employers in all aspects of employment litigation, including wage and hour, wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, whistleblower, trade secrets, and…

Ariel Brotman is an associate in the Labor & Employment Department and a member of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration Group. She represents employers in all aspects of employment litigation, including wage and hour, wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, whistleblower, trade secrets, and breach of contract litigation, in both the single-plaintiff and class-action context. She also counsels employers on a diverse range of workplace issues.

Ariel earned her J.D. from USC Gould School of Law, where she was a member of the Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal. During law school, she was also a clinical student in the University of Southern California Immigration Clinic. In addition, she served as a judicial extern to the Honorable Robert N. Kwan in the United States Bankruptcy Court, Central District of California.