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Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson is celebrating a "monumental" moment in both U.S. history, and in her life: a new law that allows survivors of workplace sexual assault and harassment to file suit against their perpetrators.
Carlson, 55, has been advocating for Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act for the past five years. On Thursday, she spoke at a special White House ceremony as President Joe Biden signed the bill into law.
"I can't think of a better way to kick off Women's History Month than by signing a bill that will make the workplace safer for millions of women," she said.
In an interview with Jeremy Parsons, senior correspondent of PEOPLE (the TV Show!), Carlson spoke about how the bill will make it easier for those who have been sexually harassed or abused in the workplace to come forward and not be silenced in their place of work.
"So many people are not going to be silenced anymore," Carlson said. "That's just monumental. It's the biggest labor law, a change in the last 100 years. And, and it's just beautiful for all survivors out there."
The piece of legislation is the biggest labor law change in over 100 years, and considered one of the biggest workplace reforms in history, benefitting millions of American workers.
It's an issue close to Carlson, who sued Fox News chairman Roger Ailes for sexual harassment in July 2016, after leaving her job at the network.
Carlson eventually reached a $20 million settlement and received an apology from the company, though a non-disclosure agreement bars her from detailing the specifics of her treatment while employed by the network. (Ailes resigned from Fox News in July 2016 following accusations from six additional women and died the following year at age 77.)
Speaking at the White House Thursday, Carlson fought back tears as she recounted her journey and fight for justice.
"I could have never imagined that five years ago after filing my harassment lawsuit against chairman and CEO of Fox News, Roger Ailes, that this day of real change could actually come," she said.
Carlson continued: "A dear friend of mine said to me, 'You know, Gretchen something good is going to come out of this, and at the time I didn't quite believe her. But you know what? She was right. Something great has come from my decision to come forward and stand alongside millions of others to say that it's not okay for companies to hide harassment, assault."
Carlson's speaking out and taking legal action against an industry titan helped pioneer the #MeToo movement and led to her founding the nonprofit Lift Our Voices to make the workplace a safer place for all.
Speaking with PEOPLE (the TV Show)!, Carlson said she "took a tragic experience and turned it into a positive," adding that the experience of standing by the president as he signed the bill was "totally surreal."
Carlson also showed off the pen Biden used to sign the bill into law Thursday, which he gave her after the signing.
"Actually, you're one of the first people to see this, this is the pen he used to sign the bill into law," Carlson told Parsons. "And then he handed it to me, maybe one of the greatest moments of my life."