A coalition of women's law groups at top U.S. universities on Monday announced they will refuse money from law firms that ban sexual harassment suits. 

The women's law associations, hailing from high-ranked law schools including Yale and Stanford, signed onto an open letter released Tuesday renouncing their connections to firms that require discrimination complaints to be resolved through arbitration.


"We, the 2018-2019 boards of women's law associations at law schools across the country, will no longer accept any funds from any law firm that requires employees to sign mandatory arbitration agreements ... or refuses to disclose in future surveys whether or not they do so," the letter states. "We will not promote these firms to our members in any way." 

Their protest comes on the heels of a similar campaign by Harvard Law students, which successfully pressured one of the country's largest law firms, Kirkland & Ellis LLP, to end its mandatory arbitration policy. Kirkland & Ellis, under pressure from the Pipeline Parity Project, in November announced that it will no longer require employment disputes from associates to be resolved through arbitration. 

"Kirkland’s policy change is a major success," the women's groups wrote in the letter. "However, Kirkland was not the only firm that forces employees to agree to mandatory arbitration as a condition of employment." 

The Pipeline Parity Project helped compile a list of 187 law firms, all of which completed a survey on their arbitration policies. The group says it will not associate with any of the firms on the list that use forced arbitration, and will discourage their members from taking positions or money from those firms. 

"We hope that using our collective voices to oppose pernicious employment practices will ensure that future students do not have to weigh the harm of signing a mandatory arbitration agreement when deciding where to work," the coalition of women's groups wrote.

Arbitration agreements require workers to give up their right to sue their employers over any complaint, including allegations of sexual harassment or racial discrimination in the workplace. Employees are less likely to receive money in arbitration cases than they would in court.

Critics of forced arbitration say it helps companies obfuscate misconduct claims by keeping the accusations out of open court.

"We are eager to use our tenure to publicly disavow employers whose policies structurally disadvantage the labor force’s most vulnerable employees, including women, people of color, gender non-conforming individuals, individuals with disabilities, and the LGBTQ+ community," the letter concludes.

The move by the women's groups comes as more employers across the country begin to speak out against the widespread practice of mandatory arbitration. Multiple tech companies have halted their arbitration policies under pressure from mobilized employees in recent months.