Over the last year, the US Supreme Court has issued three disappointing decisions that expanded companies’ use of forced arbitration clauses in consumer and non-union employment contracts. Forced arbitration clauses are an abusive corporate tactic to stamp out consumers’ and employees’ rights.
The Court has empowered corporations to restrict our right to access the court by expanding arbitrators’ power and limiting consumers’ and employees’ ability to band together in class actions. Just last month in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, the Court gave the green light to corporations to ban class actions in their contracts. So now we are left virtually without recourse and corporations are free to act without any fear that they may be held accountable for their actions.
Luckily, there are members of Congress who will stand up for consumers and employees. Senators Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) announced the introduction of the Arbitration Fairness Act of 2011, S. 987 and H.R. 1873. So far, 11 other senators and 62 representatives have cosponsored the legislation. They concur that arbitration should be agreed to by both parties after the dispute arises (not inserted in the fine print of one-sided adhesion contracts).
All members of Congress should be on board. Congress should stop the corporate attack on our rights and support the Arbitration Fairness Act.
The New York Times, July 15, 2014, Arbitration Clauses Let American Apparel Hide Misconduct
The Nation, July 8, 2014, How Consumers Are Getting Screwed by Court-Enforced Arbitration
American Banker, May 13, 2014, Mandatory Arbitration Offers Bargain-Basement Justice
Consumer Reports, May 9, 2014, Ban the use of forced-arbitration clauses in consumer and employment contracts
Reuters, April 24, 2014, Schwab drops ban on clients filing class-action lawsuits
The New York Times, April 18, 2014, How Payday Lenders Prey Upon the Poor — and the Courts Don’t Help