More and more companies are turning to arbitration agreements to thwart employees from bringing legal challenges in court. Big and small companies are requiring employees to sign arbitration clauses in what is seen as a process often lopsided in favor of the employer. Not going down without a fight, some employees are pushing back.
Recently a Berkeley, California woman was fired for refusing to sign an arbitration clause. The woman says that not long after speaking to colleagues about wage issues and other company practices, her employer presented the workers with an arbitration agreement that would block employees from filing class action lawsuits. When she refused to sign, she was fired and subsequently filed suit for wrongful termination and unfair labor practices. According to the plaintiff’s legal team – so far so good – the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has found merit in her charges against the company.
In another legal action related to an arbitration clause rearing its ugly head, a military reservist sued his civilian employer for violating federal law protecting service members on deployment after being fired just prior to departing for temporary duty to Afghanistan. Unfortunately, because he signed an arbitration agreement, a judge ruled that he would have to take his claim to arbitration instead. He has appealed the case, arguing that Userra preserves the rights of service members to go to court – updates to follow.
If you have been wrongfully terminated by your employer or believe that you are a victim of workplace discrimination, contact the employment law offices of McDonald, Woodward & Carlson PC for help.
Sources: New York Times, “Start-Ups Embrace Arbitration to Settle Workplace Disputes”, By Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Michael Corkery, May 14, 2016; San Francisco Business Times, “Berkeley Employee’s Lawsuit May Force WeWork to Drop Arbitration Clause”, by Anthony Noto, June 8, 2016.