A big milestone for the MeToo movement.
Many employers demand they use arbitration instead of the courts to settle sexual harassment claims, but now Congress has approved legislation that guarantees sexually-harrassed employees can sue in court.
The measure, which President Joe Biden is expected to sign, bars businesses from mandating employees to settle cases through arbitration. That doesn’t mean a victim can’t use an arbitrator if both sides agree.
“It’s something that we’ve hoped and prayed for,” said Eileen Wesley, the CEO of Project Help, a support center in Naples for survivors of sexual violence. “Now they have a choice where they can actually go out in public and speak before a court and let people hear what happened.”
The MeToo movement, in its own right, opened the door, Wesley said. It empowered victims to tell their stories.
“You’ve had some celebrities that were able to speak out and be heard, well, every victim should have that. Because in their own right, each victim is a hero, that they’re able to reach out and talk for help ask for help, be able to struggle to find their voice,” Wesley said.
Empowered by the news of the legislation, Wesley found her voice.
“I mean, I’m 60 and I was 23 when it happened, and I’ve really not shared it,” Wesley said.
Wesley was an office manager when an executive at her firm harassed her.
“He threw his hotel key on my desk and said, If you want to advance or you want to keep this job, you’ll meet me at the hotel during your lunch break,” Wesley said.
Wesley’s bosses fired the man who harassed her. She is grateful they stood by her.
With the president’s signature, if it happens to you, you can choose to take it to court.
“I’m here for you and we’re here for you,” Wesley said.