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Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson to attend Biden’s signing of bill overhauling workplace sexual misconduct law

Gretchen Carlson, the former Fox News anchor who has worked to ban arbitration clauses since she sued Roger Ailes, then the network’s CEO, for sexual harassment, will attend Thursday’s signing ceremony, she announced on Twitter Thursday. Carlson will be joined by four survivors who testified on Capitol Hill in support of the bill, as well as the four lawmakers who helped shepherd the bill to passage in the House and Senate.

The legislation, once signed into law, will end the use of forced arbitration clauses specifically for sexual harassment and sexual assault claims, allowing victims the option of bringing up the dispute in federal, tribal or state court. It will also apply retroactively to previously resolved cases unless the cases are pending.

More than 60 million workers are subject to mandatory arbitration clauses in the workplace, according to a White House official, often without realizing it until they come forward to bring a claim against their employer.

Mandatory arbitration clauses have long been a standard workplace practice, included in millions of employment contracts. The clause limits the legal options for employees who are victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault and makes it difficult to hold companies and employers accountable for wrongdoing. Arbitration can be very costly, which also places a large burden on workers, and it does not allow for the option of an appeal.

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, and Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, will attend the bill signing, according to the official. The bipartisan duo co-sponsored the Senate version of the bill. They will be joined by their House counterparts, Reps. Cheri Bustos, an Illinois Democrat, and Morgan Griffith, a Virginia Republican.

For Biden, the signing marks a significant bipartisan legislative achievement and the delivery on one piece of his campaign pledge to ban employers from requiring employees to enter arbitration agreements. The White House is continuing to push for broader legislation to expand the crackdown on other forced arbitration matters beyond sexual assault and sexual harassment, including arbitration of claims regarding discrimination on the basis of race, wage theft, and unfair labor practices, the official said.

During Tuesday’s State of the Union address, Biden called on Congress to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, or PRO Act. Among its provisions, the PRO Act would limit employers’ ability to require their workers to engage in arbitration agreements.

For Carlson and other advocates, the passage of the bill marked the culmination of years of work sparked amid the rise of the #MeToo movement. It shined a light on these types of legal provisions in employment contracts, which prevent victims from being able to sue their perpetrators in court, instead confining them to often-secretive, costly proceedings that many say are biased toward employers.

Lawmakers in both chambers of Congress have worked for more than four years to pass this significant measure overhauling the nation’s laws regarding the rights of sexual harassment and assault victims.

Carlson is scheduled to speak at the signing ceremony, along with Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, the official said.

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