Connecticut is chock-full of defense contractors. Which is why an amendment that was slipped into the Senate defense appropriations bill should now be one that is closely followed by those contractors.

This week, the Senate approved of an amendment that will prohibit Copyright 2009 Daniel A. Schwartzdefense contractors from requiring their employees sign arbitration agreements as a condition of their employment.

Specifically, the measure states:

None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for any existing or new Federal contract if the contractor or a subcontractor at any tier requires that an employee or independent contractor, as a condition of employment, sign a contract that mandates that the employee or independent contractor performing work under the contract or subcontract resolve through arbitration any claim under title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or any tort related to or arising out of sexual assault or harassment, including assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, or negligent hiring, supervision, or retention.

As you can see, not all employment claims would be covered, but most of them would.  Thus, this provision would require defense contractors to modify many arbitration clauses significantly.  

The Senate then approved the whole appropriations bill by a vote of 93-7. It will still need to be reconciled with the version that the House approved (without this measure) in July.

(H/T Washington DC Employment Law Update)