Following Uber, Lyft Takes Step Against Forced Arbitration—But More Must Be Done
Statement of Remington A. Gregg, Counsel for Civil Justice and Consumer Rights, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division
May 15, 2018
Note: After Uber’s announcement today that it would eliminate forced arbitration agreements that keep employees, drivers and passengers victimized by sexual assault and harassment from pursuing their rights in court, Uber’s ridesharing competitor, Lyft, announced a similar policy, although the parameters of that policy are unclear.
Public Citizen and other consumer organizations on behalf of millions of Main Street Americans recently asked Lyft to eliminate the use of forced arbitration clauses from employment contracts for all claims.
The abuses of forced arbitration reach far beyond the harassment context. The fact that Uber and now Lyft have decided to end the insidious practice of forcing survivors of harassment into arbitration proceedings does not let them off the hook from doing more.
This very narrow policy is an attempt to remove the glare of public scrutiny from their business practices. The only way to truly reform an environment that sweeps systemic issues under the rug is to:
(1) Remove forced arbitration clauses from all contracts governing a company’s workforce (including independent contractors) and for all claims (such as pay discrimination); and
(2) Allow individuals to band together in a class action with similarly harmed individuals. This is often the only way to ensure that they have a fighting chance to prevail against behemoth corporate entities.
It’s past time for companies to remove these abusive provisions from employment contracts – and consumer contracts as well. But large corporations have proven that we cannot rely on voluntary action alone. They consistently have exploited U.S. Supreme Court decisions to deny rights and redress to injured employees and consumers. Congress has the power – and must act – to end the practice of forced arbitration altogether.
There is much work to be done, and it is being led by brave individuals fighting insurmountable odds. We must continue this work apace until there is true access to justice for all.