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.
A symposium on forced arbitration of employment disputes will be held Feb. 27, 2014 at University of California, Berkeley School of Law.
Public interest organizations strongly support the Arbitration Fairness Act.
Letter to Senate Committee.
Bloomberg, Feb. 14, 2014, Feeling Ripped Off? Don't Rely on the Street's Arbitrators
San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 20, 2014, When the little guy gets shut out of court
Fox4kc.com (with video), Jan. 15, 2014, Beware of contracts that take away your rights