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Gretchen Carlson praises bill that ends forced arbitration in sexual assault cases

Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson speaks to reporters following the bipartisan passage of the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act, at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.
J. Scott Applewhite
/
AP
Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson speaks to reporters following the bipartisan passage of the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act, at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

Updated February 13, 2022 at 12:46 PM ET

A bill currently on its way to President Biden's desk promises to end a practice that prevents victims who experience sexual misconduct in the workplace from taking their claims to court.

The legislation, called the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act, would bar the use of clauses in employment contracts that force survivors of such misconduct into a private arbitration process often used to shield accused perpetrators. After Congress passed the bill last week, it now awaits the signature of President Biden, who has already signaled his support for the bill.

One of the issue's most visible advocates, former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, has been one of the most vocal advocates for the bill, which was first introduced in 2017 by Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

"This is a victory for all workers and for all the millions of people who will no longer be silenced on these issues," she said in an interview with Weekend All Things Considered host Michel Martin on Saturday.

Carlson has been working to ban the arbitration clauses since 2016, when she sued Roger Ailes, then the CEO of Fox News, for sexual harassment. The lawsuit triggered the revelations of other high-profile sexual assault scandals in the media industry and helped to propel the Me Too movement.

Before her lawsuit brought her allegations against the powerful cable news executive public, a forced arbitration clause had forbade her to sue her employer.

"Luckily, my lawyer strategically came up with a plan to sue Roger Ailes personally instead of Fox News as an entity to try to circumvent the arbitration clause and at least make my case public," Carlson said.

Carlson said passing this bill "is about all the people that I'm helping who didn't have the same resources or national platform that I did to potentially work so hard to try to make this change."

Robert Baldwin III and Tinbete Ermyas produced and edited this interview for broadcast.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.