Arbitration is the primary instrument companies use to resolve disputes, such as employment discrimination claims. A while back, the high court announced that employers can mandate employees into national arbitration and mediation instead of heading to court. How is this going to affect the employees’ rights?
The Impact to the Employees
According to some arbitration advocates such as Littleton Alternative Dispute Resolution, Inc., employees can take advantage of the agreements. Mark Astarita who is a New York securities attorney does admit that both parties will encounter some benefits and drawbacks. Regardless, he is sure that the employees will get a fair process with results that are usually same as what they would receive in a courtroom.
In reality, the employer may force the employee to accept the agreement if they still want to keep their job. The agreement will force the employee to pass their legal complaints directly to the company for private arbitration. This means that they have to stop fighting and just give up their right to take the complaint against their employer to court.
The Unfair Systems
The majority of critics, consisting of civil rights advocates, labor leaders and trial lawyers would argue that the arbitration law does not have to be fair. This is why some tend to exploit its weakness. Around 20 percent of American employers have their own arbitration plans and these differ greatly from one another.
Respected and established arbitrators usually resolve disputes, like the American Academy of Arbitrators and the American Arbitration Association. The problem is, there are still thousands of arbitration cases that unreliable arbitrators handle.
Luckily, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago overruled the old ruling and favored to give employees their legal day in court. The removal of barriers to justice now allows employees to pursue their rightful claims. This pronouncement is a huge win for employees’ rights, which will hopefully change mandatory arbitration agreements in other fields.