Issues surrounding mandatory individual arbitration may not capture the nation’s attention like healthcare or the NFL, but they are at the center of debate in all three branches of government. Our commitment to equal justice is being tested, and the rights of consumers and employees hang in the balance.
Supreme Court decisions dating back to the early 1990s have enabled mandatory arbitration clauses to become nearly ubiquitous in the fine print of employment and consumer contracts.
The Trump administration has proposed a rule that would allow nursing homes to force their patients who are neglected or mistreated to arbitrate claims — an issue that faces increased scrutiny after 11 people died in a Florida nursing home that lost power during Hurricane Irma.
In the Senate, Republican leadership could vote any day to rescind a new agency rule that protects consumers’ access to justice when financial institutions — like Wells Fargo and Equifax — defraud or discriminate against consumers. And on Monday the Supreme Court will consider whether federal labor law protects workers against mandatory individual arbitration when employers violate their rights.
The Supreme Court case, Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, concerns longstanding labor law designed to even the playing field between workers and their employers. The law gives employees the right to band together to challenge their employer’s illegal conduct in court, including through class actions. Despite this law, employers routinely condition employment on arbitration agreements that force employees to forfeit their right to sue collectively in public court proceedings.
Read the full op-ed here.
The NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund and The Impact Fund filed an amicus brief in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis on behalf of 30 civil rights organizations.