Posted at 16:35h
I have made no secret about my extreme distaste for mandatory arbitration agreements imposed on employees by their employers. As a result of a 2011 decision by the United States Supreme Court, employers have increasingly forced employees and new hires to sign arbitration agreements. These agreements prevent employees from suing their employers in a court of law and having a jury decide their cases. It is a deprivation of justice that has impacted the rights of employees to have their day in court and obtain justice. Just last week, however, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled that employers cannot impose unlawful arbitration clauses on employees. More specifically, the Court ruled that employers cannot impose an arbitration agreement on their employees that prevents employees from banning together to file a class action against their employers.
According the the Court of Appeals, arbitration agreements that interfere with the right of employees to sue employers in a class action violates the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA"), and are therefore unlawful. The NLRA prohibits employers from interfering with their employees' right to engage in a "concerted action," which includes filing a class action or unionizing.
This decision is the opposite of a previous decision by another federal court of appeal. With the split in decisions between the courts, the Supreme Court is likely going to have to look at the issue to resolve the split. Given that the Supreme Court only has eight justices at the moment because of the Republican's refusal to consider President Obama's nomination for a ninth justice, the stakes could not be higher for the upcoming election that will decide who gets to appoint a potentially tie-breaking justice. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I will update readers if and when the Supreme Court takes up this issue.
If your employer required you to sign an arbitration agreement, and you believe that you have a legal claim against your employer, an employment lawyer at the Khadder Law Firm can help you navigate the effects of an arbitration agreement on your potential case. Contact an employment lawyer at the Khadder Law Firm today for a free consultation....