What Workers Should Know About Arbitration Agreements

Arbitration agreements have become common aspects of consumer and employment contracts. These agreements waive the rights for consumers or workers to sue businesses or their employers. In fact, some employers may require workers to sign arbitration contracts as a condition of employment (a process known as forced arbitration).

A 2010 estimate by Advocates for Employee Rights suggests 27 percent of US employers use forced arbitration, about 36 million workers at the time.

Under forced arbitration, employees are required to waive their rights to a trial by jury as a condition of employment. Instead of filing a lawsuit against an employer, workers would be forced to bring disputes with an employer before a privately hired arbitrator. In other words, arbitration cuts of workers off from using courts in most circumstances (there are exceptions). Depending on the situation, this can have disadvantages.

Weighing the Cons of Arbitration Agreements

What are the cons of arbitration? Arbitration can make it difficult to hold employers accountable for unjust workplace policies, as arbitration is done in private. Some employers have been accused of using these agreements to commit egregious workers’ rights violations. It can also be difficult to appeal arbitration decisions.

While arbitration has plenty of downsides, workers still have options. Workers entering arbitration with their employers can still use legal representation. Depending on the situation, some employers may allow workers to negotiate arbitration contracts. Also consider that although workers have waived rights to a trial by jury, third parties such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) can still file lawsuits. For example, if an employee who had signed an arbitration agreement were discriminated against, he or she could still file a complaint with the EEOC. The EEOC might launch an investigation and lawsuit.

The Los Angeles employment law attorneys at Kesluk, Silverstein, Jacob & Morrison, P.C. are dedicated to helping workers hold unlawful employers accountable.

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