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Senate moves forward with proposal to protect age discrimination claims from mandatory arbitration.

In Senate
May 23, 2024
senate protect age discrimination claims

Recent developments on Capitol Hill have seen a clear move towards improving the legal channels available for employees experiencing age discrimination.

A significant majority in the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to pass the “Protecting Older Americans Act,” reflecting a bipartisan effort. Notably, Senators Lindsey Graham and Kirsten Gillibrand spearheaded this initiative.

This legislation, soon to be debated by the full Senate, seeks to remove the barriers to litigation presented by mandatory arbitration agreements in employment contracts.

These agreements, often precluding court proceedings, have been standard for resolving age discrimination disputes. The act advocates for the fair treatment of the aging workforce, asserting that they should have equal opportunity to pursue their legal rights in a public forum if they believe they have been wronged.

In support of the legislative action, Senator Dick Durbin highlighted the significance of choice for older Americans confronting ageism, emphasizing the option to opt for either litigation or arbitration.

The dialogue in Congress points to a larger conversation on how arbitration, while sometimes serving as a cost-effective dispute resolution method for many Americans, may limit the accessibility of justice for some.

Reformers press the issue that private arbitration can sometimes limit rights and overlook the importance of public legal recourse.

Echoing this sentiment, Gretchen Carlson’s testimony to the committee underscored the potential of such clauses to undermine legitimate claims for justice.

However, not all feedback has been supportive. Some, like Senator John Cornyn, have expressed concerns over curtailing arbitration. They argue that it may inadvertently restrict access to justice for those unable to afford traditional litigation.

Regardless of varied perspectives on arbitration’s merits, the advancing of the bill suggests a consensus on the necessity of age discrimination justice.

It aligns with previous legislative standards set by a 2022 law, excluding victims of sexual assault and harassment from private arbitration. This measure has yet to result in the negative repercussions some had feared.

Senator Cory Booker has called attention to what he views as an oversight in the current proposal: the omission of provisions concerning racial discrimination.

Despite feeling positive about the bill’s direction for age-related biases, he stresses the continued need to address racial justice in the workplace.

As the bill progresses, it continues to spark a multilayered discussion among legislators, advocates, and the public alike regarding the balance between arbitration and litigative rights within the American justice system.