ST. THOMAS, V.I. – Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Earl
Walker is a signatory to a letter authored by Pamela Jo Bondi, attorney general
of Florida and North Carolina attorney general, Josh Stein, to the U.S.
Congress urging the enactment of federal legislation to end mandatory
arbitration in sexual harassment cases.
is currently considering passing such legislation, prompting attorneys general
Bondi and Stein to invite AG Walker and other attorneys general in the United
States to inform Congress of their support of such legislation.
a brief statement, AG Walker expressed his approval for the action taken by
Bondi and Stein.
strongly support the efforts of attorneys general Bondi and Stein,” AG Walker
said, “because we have to ensure that sexual harassment victims have their day
in court as too many of these cases are settled behind closed doors due to
one-sided, binding arbitration provisions in employment contracts leaving
sexual harassment matters to be resolved by arbitrators instead of courts of
Walker believes that such legislation will bring relief to many victims in the
“Many sexual harassment victims are unaware
that they are legally restrained by arbitration provisions until they are
victimized and try to enforce their legal rights,” AG Walker said. “So, if Congress enacts such legislation,
then in the Virgin Islands, sexual harassment victims – the majority of whom
are women – will have access to Virgin Islands courts to seek the proper relief
from judges who are trained to handle such matters and not be re-victimized by
letter to Congress stated in relevant part that “Congress today has both
opportunity and cause to champion the rights of victims of sexual harassment in
the workplace by enacting legislation to free them from the injustice of forced
arbitration and secrecy when it comes to seeking redress for egregious
misconduct condemned by all concerned Americans. We are aware that the Senate and House are
considering legislation to address this issue.
Whatever form the final version may take, we strongly support
appropriately-tailored legislation to ensure that sexual harassment victims
have a right to their day in court.”
petition further noted that “these arbitration requirements often are set forth
in clauses found within the ‘fine print’ of lengthy employment contracts. Moreover, these clauses typically are
presented in boilerplate ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ fashion by the employers.”
major U.S. corporations – the most prominent being Microsoft Corporation – have
recently eliminated mandatory arbitration requirements for sexual harassment
claims. Brad Smith, president and chief
legal officer of that giant technology company, opines that settling sexual
harassment cases out of court allows perpetrators to continue their conduct for
the silencing of voices has helped perpetuate sexual harassment, the country
should guarantee that people can go to court to ensure these concerns can
always be heard,” Smith said.
proposed sexual harassment legislation, which was precipitated by the recent
spate of sexual harassment allegations against executives, legislators,
prominent artists, news anchors and film makers, is designed to prevent such
harassment in the workplace.