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The U.S. Supreme Court Blocks Access to Courts for Private Sector Employees


May 21, 2018

The U.S. Supreme Court Blocks Access to Courts for Private Sector Employees

Statement of Fair Arbitration Now Coalition

In response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Epic Systems v. Lewis et al allowing employers to use forced arbitration agreements to block employees from bringing collective actions, Fair Arbitration Now (FAN), a network of more than 70 consumer, labor, legal and community organizations, released the following statement:

“Today, the Court has broken with more than eighty years of labor law precedent. Employers now will be allowed to force employees to sign arbitration agreements that waive the right to bring collective or class actions as a condition of employment. This decision paves the way for employers to impede access to justice for millions of individuals who are survivors of discrimination, harassment, pay inequality and more.

The Supreme Court has narrowed the rights of individuals to access justice for the past 30 years, and forced arbitration clauses have become ubiquitous in our lives. Now, the Supreme Court has given its blessing to corporations to force you to sign away the right to band together with co-workers to defend your civil rights just to get a job.

The #MeToo movement has shown how critical it is for individuals to be able to voice their concerns together and how harmful forced arbitration can be for women fighting harassment and discrimination, including harassment in the workplace. Today, the five Justices who voted to eviscerate workers’ access to justice have given their stamp of approval to a system designed to keep systemic discrimination and harassment in the shadows.”


Case Background:

In October, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Epic Systems v. Lewis et al, a trio of consolidated cases focused on whether provisions in employment contracts that purport to waive employees’ right to bring class or collective actions are enforceable. The cases are: Epic Systems v. Lewis, 16-285; Ernst & Young v. Morris, 16-300; and National Labor Relations Board v. Murphy Oil, 16-307.

Fair Arbitration Now is a coalition of organizations that support ending the predatory practice of forced arbitration in consumer and non-bargaining employment contracts: http://www.fairarbitrationnow.org/coalition/.