Gretchen Carlson Wants Congress To Act On Sexual Harassment

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The former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson is on a mission: Get a bipartisan bill through Congress on a hot-button issue and, all the while, change the culture surrounding sexual harassment.

"Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back," by Gretchen Carlson. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
"Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back," by Gretchen Carlson. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

“I believe in this mission, to stop this once and for all,” Carlson told On Point’s Tom Ashbrook in an interview Wednesday.

Carlson is pushing for legislation that would curtail secret, forced arbitration agreements in employment contracts. Would-be workers have a choice when an employer asks them to sign an arbitration agreement: give up their right to a public jury trial if a dispute comes up, or not accept the job at all.

For 98 percent of people, Carlson said, that’s not a choice at all.

You can listen to the full episode here.

Carlson’s accusations against Fox News boss Roger Ailes helped lead to his ouster from the network and a wave of public scrutiny about the culture of sexual harassment at Fox and in America more broadly.

Now, Carlson is trying to get Congress to act.

She has Democrats on her side, but she needs Republicans to support the bill, too, she said.

“This has become a mission for me,” Carlson told On Point. “So I am pretty confident I am going to get a Republican.”

She’ll be down in D.C. early next month to push again, she said, and has been privately meeting with Republicans.

Private arbitration is just that: private. It happens behind closed doors. Employers have advantages, like picking the arbitrator. And the decisions generally can’t be appealed.

They’re generally favored by businesses and employers, while consumers and employees often – but not always – want to maintain the right to a public jury trial.

An arbitration agreement is not the same thing as a non-disclosure agreement. People who settle sexual harassment claims often have to sign non-disclosure agreements as part of that deal, and agree not to talk about their allegations or the settlement.

Carlson had both an arbitration agreement and, when she settled, a non-disclosure agreement. But her lawyers had an ingenious legal strategy to get around the barriers of arbitration, she said. She’s still limited in what she can say because of the non-disclosure.

“What is it doing for our culture?” Carlson said. “It’s fooling us. It’s fooling us in 2017, that we’ve actually come so far. Why do we feel that way? Because we’re not hearing about these cases, because they’re being forced into secrecy, and now that’s changing.”

In her new book, “Be Fierce,” Carlson also pushes for human resources representatives who are independent contractors, so they don’t have a conflict of interest.

This segment aired on October 25, 2017.


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