Gretchen Carlson wants sexual harassment legislation on Trump's desk

Kamini Ramdeen,

Author and former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson has become a champion and prototype for speaking out against workplace sexual harassment, and now she is determined to take her advocacy to the next level by putting sexual harassment legislation on President Donald Trump’s desk.

In 2016, her groundbreaking lawsuit against Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes led other high profile women, like Megyn Kelly, to speak out about their own stories within the Fox organization -- which ultimately led to Ailes’ resignation and apology.

Sitting with Carlson before she took the stage at the BUILD Series and MAKERS event on Tuesday, she spoke about the next steps for her platform, which comes in the form of new bipartisan legislation aimed to remove arbitration clauses from employee and consumer contracts.

Trump, similar to Ailes, also has a past of accusers and accusations ranging from sexual assault to outright rape, his youngest alleged victim was a 13-years-old at the time of her encounter with him. Recently, Summer Zervos, a former contestant on "The Apprentice," filed a subpoena as part of an ongoing defamation lawsuit against the president, saying that she and his other accusers were lying about their allegations.

In light of these events, a bill that would purportedly land on the controversial U.S. leader’s desk would be a landmark moment for women, especially on the heels of the shocking Harvey Weinstein scandal -- he now has more than 40 accusers reporting claims of sexual assault. His case has even sparked international concern with the U.K. opening two investigations on more claims against the disgraced Hollywood producer.

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Carlson, along with Democratic lawmakers, drafted legislation to make the process of filing sexual harassment complaints more transparent. Specifically, her proposed bill would remove the secrecy around the practice of arbitration in workplace complaints.

“That particular bill would eradicate arbitration clauses completely, and while I did speak out in favor of that, I think it’s imperative that we have a bipartisan effort on this,” Carlson said. “I don’t think we’re ever going to get the other side to completely get rid of arbitration so my approach is more baby steps... to just take the secrecy element away."

"Because that in and of itself would even out the pendulum of power,” she added.

As Carlson reaches across the aisle for Republican support for the proposed bill, awareness of sexual harassment has begun to further take shape with the help of a trending social media movement called #MeToo, which has seen more than 1,000,000 shares on Twitter.

During the past week, as our social media feeds flooded with personal stories of sexual assault survivors, we can see the national dialogue on these once taboo matters begin to explode.

“Things like the MeToo hashtag have kept the story alive and growing and I think this is one way in which social media has been really positive,” Carlson said. “Today there was a lot of male hashtags as well about how they need to speak up and I think that’s really continuing the conversation in a positive way."

“Be Fierce,” Carlson’s newly released book, is her way of continuing that conversation, she speaks directly to women helping them to create a plan if they are experiencing unwanted sexual advances in their place of employment, walking them through how to go about creating that plan and even advocating for sharing their stories with colleagues who are both male and female.

“I want women to know that courage starts young and it’s a process,” she said. “I had a mom who told me I could be anything I wanted to be. And if women haven’t heard that I hope they hear that from me now.”