Since its inception in 1985, NELA has been a leader in opposing forced arbitration of employment claims and it is one of our top legislative priorities. Forced arbitration denies individuals access to our country's civil justice system when employers violate our nation's employment and civil rights laws.
Forced arbitration is anathema to our public justice system because it occurs in secret, private tribunals in the absence of accompanying legal safeguards such as a written record of the arbitration proceedings, the right to appeal the arbitrator's decision if the law is not applied correctly, or other guarantees that ensure a fair process. The practice is widespread, affecting every segment of the workforce from minimum wage workers to our nation's servicemembers to highly compensated executives who are compelled to give up their rights under federal, state, and local anti-discrimination and other worker protection laws in order to get or keep a job.
Today, at least 15 to 20 percent of U.S. employers require forced arbitration—covering over 30 million employees, or 25 percent of the non-union workforce. Workplace laws at risk include the:
- Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1991;
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act;
- Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act;
- Family and Medical Leave Act;
- Fair Labor Standards Act;
- Equal Pay Act;
- Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act;
- National Labor Relations Act; and
- Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.
Arbitration is an appropriate way to resolve disputes when it is knowingly and voluntarily agreed to by the parties before a dispute arises. This includes the protection of workers' substantive legal rights, such as their right to join together using voluntary arbitration or the courts to challenge discriminatory employment practices, violations of wage and hour laws, or other unlawful actions by the employer.
Arbitration Fairness Act Of 2013 Bans Forced Arbitration
Recent court rulings make it clear that Congress must act to restore the original intent of the FAA, which was enacted in 1925 for the purpose of ensuring that voluntary business-to-business arbitration agreements were enforced by the courts.
To address the problem of forced arbitration, on May 7, 2013, Senator Al Franken (D-MN) and Representative Hank Johnson (D-GA) introduced the Arbitration Fairness Act (AFA) of 2013, S. 878/H.R. 1844. More than 50 diverse organizations have endorsed the bill. Articles by U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-(RI) and conservative columnist Paul Samakow show why ending forced arbitration should be a bipartisan issue.
The Arbitration Fairness Act would amend the Federal Arbitration Act by making it unlawful for employers to impose arbitration on employees except when knowingly and voluntarily agreed to after the dispute arises or pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement.
Join NELA In Ending Forced Arbitration Of Workplace Disputes
As a leader of the Fair Arbitration Now Coalition, NELA is educating the public and policymakers on the need to ban forced arbitration. In fighting against forced arbitration, NELA and our members:
- Lobby Congress for legislation that would prevent employers from forcing workers to give up their right to go to court—and accompanying legal protections—when they have workplace claims;
- File amicus briefs in significant cases challenging forced arbitration; and
- Serve as a resource for press exposés of forced arbitration practices.
To get involved in NELA's efforts to oppose forced arbitration, contact Julie M. Strandlie, NELA's Legislative & Public Policy Director at (202) 898-2880, ext. 115, or firstname.lastname@example.org.