Forced Arbitration Is An Injustice, But a New Bill Brings Hope
An act to repeal forced arbitration passed the House of Representatives on September 20, 2019, by a vote of 225 to 186. The bill—which still needs to pass the Senate—finally addresses the injustice of this longstanding unjust practice.
Last updated on Jan 19 , 2021
Washington, DC: 'Equal Justice Under Law' engraving above the entrance to U.S. Supreme Court building. The Supreme Court faces the U.S. Capitol building.Shutterstock, Standard License
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Problematic forced arbitration clauses are included in many company's employment terms and conditions. These clauses often favor the employer over the employee. And many employees, especially those who are underemployed, are quick to sign regardless of this unjust clause.
Forced arbitration means that when an employee has a dispute against a company, they are not able to take it to court to present their case in front of a jury of their peers. Instead, the proceedings are kept private, and a single arbitrator decides the outcome of the case. While there are similar rules of law, there are critical differences and incentives at play.
For example, arbitration is often paid for by the company, who also pays the arbitration organization, which means there's less neutrality. For example, in a court of law, the judges are paid by the state or country's tax dollars, which comes from its citizens.
Forced arbitration is also a problem because newly hired employees are forced to sign these legal agreements if they want to get a job with the company. This is is often a prerequisite for a job.
Finding a job is already hard enough, especially in the employment precarity during the COVID-19 pandemic. And because almost all companies include these forced arbitration provisions in their contracts, employees can't easily find another employer that does not include these clauses.
Zinus furniture's arbitration agreement is clear and obvious for consumers
Fortunately, some companies, like the image shown above, help make it clear to consumers that arbitration is the agreed dispute resolution after buying the product. However, many more companies never make it obvious or clear to the general buying public.
Even Google ended forced arbitration in 2019 after 20,000 employees walked out and protested.
In early 2019, 20,000 employees of Google walked out of the company in protest after reports sexual misconduct by executives.
One of the employees' demands was ending forced arbitration. Due to the size and publicity of the protest, Google made the decision effective March 21, 2019 to end forced arbitration for all current and future employees in any type of dispute against the company.
The FAIR Act (Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal) proposes comprehensive legislation to prohibit pre-dispute, forced arbitration agreements from being valid or enforceable if it requires forced arbitration of an employment, consumer, or civil rights claim against a corporation. You can help by contacting your state Senators and communicating your support for the bill.
Rules of Procedure United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, judiciary.senate.gov
How a Bill Becomes A Law, senate.gov
Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, senate.gov
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