The Supreme Court made a new decision in the case of Epic Systems Corp. V. Lewis that will have lasting effects on workers across the country. The court ruled that worker’s cant band together to dispute a company’s violations over pay or work conditions if they have signed arbitration agreements. For the 25 million American workers who aren't protected by unions, the decision is a massive blow.
What Does This Mean for Workers?
Ultimately, the new ruling means that employees at private companies are no longer able to bring class action lawsuits against their employer if they have already agreed to arbitrate disputes as part of their employment agreement. Many employers throughout the U.S. have mandatory arbitration clauses included in their employment offers.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, more than half of private, non-union employees have to abide with mandatory employment arbitration procedures. If you have signed an agreement with the company you work for that says any legal disputes you have must be arbitrated, you are now ineligible to partake in a class action lawsuit to resolve your dispute.
What the Justices Say
In the court’s decision, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote, “The policy may be debatable but the law is clear: Congress has instructed that arbitration agreements like those before us must be enforced as written. While Congress is of course always free to amend this judgment, we see nothing suggesting it did so in the NLRA — much less that it manifested a clear intention to displace the Arbitration Act. Because we can easily read Congress's statutes to work in harmony, that is where our duty lies.”
On the other hand, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the majority opinion was "egregiously wrong." She warns that this decision will leave workers vulnerable because the laws meant to protect them will now be loosely enforced.
This decision poses particular problems for the #MeToo movement, because it will make it more difficult for employees to challenge a company’s workplace conditions. This can mean that many cases of sexual harassment, or cases involving gender, pay, pregnancy, or race discrimination will be forced to be disputed in private arbitration instead of public courts.
Have your labor rights been violated? We can help you get the justice you deserve. Contact our Hartford wrongful termination attorneys to schedule a free consultation today.