SCOTUS: Companies can force arbitration
In a decision “affecting as many as 25 million workers,” the Supreme Court ruled this week that companies can require employees to settle wage disputes and other matters through individual arbitration rather than in class-action suits, said Robert Barnes in The Washington Post. In a 5-4 decision, with the conservative justices in the majority, the court ruled that federal law favored arbitration over “costly and time-consuming litigation.” But in a dissent read from the bench, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called the decision “egregiously wrong,” saying it puts workers at a disadvantage, because they must give up the ability to collectively pursue claims that a company has shortchanged or treated them unfairly.
“The ruling is a devastating blow to employees who are required to sign arbitration agreements as a condition of employment,” said Cristian Farias in NYMag.com. Though the case at hand concerned wage disputes, it remains unclear whether discrimination and civil rights claims will be affected, as the majority opinion did not mention them. Employers are now expected to make millions of additional workers sign contracts containing arbitration clauses. Hours after the decision, one law firm unveiled an automated tool for companies that prepares custom arbitration agreements with class-action waivers. ■