Workplace harassment is all too common in Rhode Island, and if you had signed a pre-dispute arbitration agreement when hired, you might feel like you may have no recourse in a questionable situation. However, a bill inspired by the MeToo Movement passed by the U.S. Congress will allow you to pursue a claim in court.
The new legislation will allow victims of sexual assault or harassment in the workplace to dispose of any signed arbitration agreement. You may still pursue a claim with your company via arbitration if you wish. The legislation also allows you to pursue your claim in a joint action with other employees, even if your signed agreement says that you cannot.
The courts have the authority to decide whether this legislation applies to a given claim. However, you should note that even though the bill nullifies agreements signed before the date of enactment, sexual assault or harassment claims must have occurred after that date. You cannot file a retroactive claim. All sexual harassment claims, whether under federal, state, local or tribal law, are covered.
Holding your company accountable for sexual harassment
If you have suffered workplace harassment, you may fear taking action because of possible retaliation by your employer. For some individuals, such a toxic work environment may even extend to employee arbitration sessions to remedy the dispute. However, letting such situations continue can damage your long-term mental health.
Employees who may have experienced workplace sexual harassment should keep records noting the time and date of the alleged incidents. You have rights under the law.