Eliza Dushku Testifies Against Practice Of Forced Arbitration

The actress was fired a day after voicing set concerns, and she was unable to pursue legal action because of her contract's arbitration clause.
Posted at 8:27 PM, Nov 16, 2021

It's been more than three years since the #MeToo and Time's Up movements vowed to fight against sexual harassment and assault across all industries. 

On Tuesday, actress Eliza Dushku, who faced rampant harassment on the set of the CBS crime drama "Bull," testified in front of Congress, advocating for an end to forced arbitration.  

"In my first week at my new job, I found myself the brunt of crude, sexualized and lewd verbal assaults," Dushku said. "I suffered near constant sexual harassment from my co-star."  

Dushku spoke directly with her harasser, the show's star Michael Weatherly, to voice her concerns about the tone he set at work. But the following day, she was fired despite having a six-year contract with CBS. The actress was unable to pursue legal action for wrongful termination and discrimination because of the arbitration clause in her contract though she did settle with the network for a reported $9.5 million. 

"Because of binding arbitration, there will never be real justice for me and for countless other victims of sexual harassment and assault," Dushku said.

The practice of forced arbitration, found in employment and consumer contracts, prevents people from taking legal action against companies. Instead, cases go to private, closed off arbitration forums, which many argue lack public accountability and little opportunity for appeals.  

In response to the #MeToo movement, some states began working to prohibit the use of forced arbitration over cases of sexual misconduct. Other advocates for ending the practice include former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, who sued the outlet's CEO Roger Ailes for sexual harassment.  

"So many of these women have shared their emotional stories of pain, but mostly about how they were silenced, because that's what forced arbitration does," Carlson said.

With over 200 cosponsors, the bill to end forced arbitration has major bipartisan support. President Joe Biden has already signaled his intention to end the practice. 

The ACLU said in 2019 that forced arbitration affects more than 60 million workers. Studies have shown that the clauses prevent people from pursuing discrimination cases against their employers, and they make it even harder to win those cases.