‘Rip-Off Clause’ Takes Center Stage on Capitol Hill and in the Boardroom This Week

Experts Can Talk About How Everyday Investors, the Public and Congress Are Fed Up With Fine Print Clauses That Take Away Our Access to the Courts

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Investors, members of Congress and millions of Americans are mounting a growing campaign against the continued use of forced arbitration clauses in consumer and worker contracts, and Public Citizen is helping lead the national effort to stop this insidious practice.

Forced arbitration clauses usually are hidden in the fine print of “take-it-or-leave-it” agreements. These clauses deprive people of their right to seek justice in court before an impartial judge or jury. Corporations that place forced arbitration clauses in their standard contracts with consumers, nonunion employees and small businesses essentially shield themselves from accountability.

Public Citizen experts are deeply engaged in the effort to end the practice. This week could mark a turning point in the fight:

  • On Monday, Public Citizen, which leads a coalition of organizations aimed at pushing major technology companies like Facebook, Twitter and Uber to remove rip-off clauses from their employment contracts – and has seen some success getting them to make important first steps – sent another letter to the companies urging them to do more to protect their workers from this practice;
  • Today, a U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary subcommittee will explore how forced arbitration erodes access to the legal system. Public Citizen, which organizes the Fair Arbitration Now coalition, a collection of nonprofit organizations committed to ending the use of forced arbitration, sent a letter to the House Judiciary Committee expressing support of ending forced arbitration; and
  • On Friday, shareholders at CBRE Group, the world’s largest commercial real estate services firm, will push a shareholder proposal urging the company to request a study of the impact of forced arbitration clauses on their business.

Below is a list of experts who are available to speak about the destructive impact of rip-off clauses on consumers, workers and small businesses. They also can explain why consumers deserve to have a choice when it comes to pursuing their claims in court or in arbitration.

Remington A. Gregg, counsel for civil justice and consumer rights, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division rgregg@citizen.org, (202) 588-5117
Gregg can comment on how pervasive forced arbitration is in consumer and employment contracts as well as the approximately half-dozen bills that have been introduced or soon will be introduced in Congress that would end the use of forced arbitration.

Robert Weissman, president, Public Citizen, rweissman@citizen.org, (202) 588-1000
Weissman can talk about the effect of political donations on weakening consumer protections, regulatory policy and facilitating corporate wrongdoing – and how forced arbitration has created a system of virtual corporate impunity.