Sept. 21, 2018
Tech Giants Give a Cold Shoulder to Forced Arbitration Concerns
Dozens of Groups Demand the Companies End Secret Settlement Agreements That Curb Employees’ Access to Justice
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Twenty tech giants, including Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft must free their employees and contractors from forced arbitration agreements, Public Citizen and 46 other groups and professors said Friday in letters (PDF) to the companies’ CEOs.
The groups, including NAACP and the Economic Policy Institute, wrote to 21 CEOs in February 2018, urging them to remove forced arbitration provisions from employment contracts and restore workers’ rights to access the court system. Honeywell responded to the coalition that it did not include forced arbitration clauses in employment contracts.
IBM, Dell, Intel, United Tech, Hewlett-Packard, Cisco, HP, Oracle, Google, Twitter, Netflix, Uber, Lyft, Instagram, Tech Data and Xerox also received letters from the groups.
Forced arbitration clauses have become ubiquitous in society and are slipped into the fine print of many contracts. In employment contracts, these clauses force workers to waive their right to settle employment disputes in open, neutral court, a legal move that often favors the company’s interests. Companies such as Uber have been criticized for forcing individuals who have alleged claims of gender discrimination and sexual harassment into arbitration.
In May, about 8,500 activists sent a separate letter to Amazon urging its board of directors to change company policy and prohibit forced arbitration in employment contracts. Amazon never responded.
“Tech companies promote themselves as responsible companies in the marketplace. Yet, these companies are forcing workers who are victims of discrimination or harassment into a privatized system of justice where they have a very high likelihood of losing,” said Remington A. Gregg, counsel for civil justice and consumer rights for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch. “This is not a good look for these companies.”
Earlier this year, a prominent federal judge noted that it is a “legal fiction” that individuals willingly waive their Seventh Amendment right to a trial by jury when they sign a contract. He noted they have no meaningful choice – they either must agree to waive their rights or refuse the job offer.
“You have an opportunity to help end this legal charade, be on the right side of history and set an example as a responsible company in the marketplace by removing forced arbitration provisions from your employment contracts,” said the groups.