U.S. News: High Court Rules for Bosses on Arbitration Bravin, Jess . Wall Street Journal , Eastern edition; New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]22 May 2018: A.3.
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FULL TEXT WASHINGTON — A divided Supreme Court on Monday gave businesses the power to block employees from joining
together to file claims for wage theft and other work-related violations, upholding employer-written rules requiring
that each case be limited to a single employee.
The decision, which overturns the position of the National Labor Relations Board and resolves a split among
federal appeals courts, gives teeth to employment contracts drawn to minimize corporate exposure to public trials
and class actions filed by their own employees.
Tens of millions of employees currently work under contracts limiting redress to claims filed before a private
arbitrator on an individualized basis. With the issue clarified, employers are expected to impose such limits on
Business groups have championed individualized arbitration as an efficient means to resolve disputes and deter
frivolous claims that would live longer and cost more if brought in open court. Consumer and labor organizations
contend the private, often confidential system is stacked against individuals and can hide from public scrutiny
systemic misconduct by a company or industry.
Monday’s decision, breaking 5-to-4 along the court’s conservative-liberal divide, mirrored that broader debate in the
weight each faction gave to conflicting federal statutes and the congressional priorities they reflected.
“Employees will be able to vindicate claims that could not be asserted in court because of the complexity and high
cost of the judicial system. Consumers will continue to benefit from lower prices resulting from companies’ lower
legal fees,” said Andrew Pincus, who filed a friend of the court brief for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce arguing the
The AFL-CIO’s general counsel, Craig Becker, took the opposite position. Many claims will go unaddressed, he said,
because individual employees often can’t afford to bring cases through arbitration. Moreover, there is “a
tremendous chilling effect by requiring each of those employees to step forward individually,” Mr. Becker said.
At odds were the Federal Arbitration Act, signed in 1925 by President Calvin Coolidge, and the National Labor
Relations Act, which President Franklin Roosevelt signed a decade later in a vastly different economic
The arbitration act was intended to smooth the path for commerce by making arbitration clauses — agreements to
resolve disputes outside the court system through private decision makers — “valid, irrevocable and enforceable.”
The court’s rulings have elevated the sanctity of arbitration clauses above state and federal laws intended to
further other goals, such as protecting consumers from fraud or promoting competition in the marketplace. Writing
for the majority, Justice Neil Gorsuch cited that line of precedent to conclude that labor rights should give way as
“The NLRA secures to employees rights to organize unions and bargain collectively, but it says nothing about how
judges and arbitrators must try legal disputes that leave the workplace and enter the courtroom or arbitral forum,”
Justice Gorsuch wrote.
In dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that the majority had undermined federal law intended “to place
employers and employees on a more equal footing.” She urged Congress to step in and explicitly authorize group
claims by employees.
Credit: By Jess Bravin
Subject: Arbitration; Labor relations; Employees; Consumers; Supreme Court decisions;
Federal court decisions; Employers
Location: United States–US
People: Ginsburg, Ruth Bader Coolidge, Calvin (1872-1933) Gorsuch, Neil M Becker, Craig
Company / organization: Name: Congress; NAICS: 921120; Name: American Federation of Labor-Congress of
Industrial Organizations; NAICS: 813930; Name: National Labor Relations Board–
NLRB; NAICS: 926150; Name: US Chamber of Commerce; NAICS: 813910
Publication title: Wall Street Journal, Eastern edition; New York, N.Y.
Publication year: 2018
Publication date: May 22, 2018
Publisher: Dow Jones &Company Inc
Place of publication: New York, N.Y.
Country of publication: United States, New York, N.Y.
Publication subject: Business And Economics–Banking And Finance
Source type: Newspapers
Database copyright 2018 ProQuest LLC. All rights reserved. Terms and Conditions Contact ProQuest
Language of publication: English
Document type: News
ProQuest document ID: 2042026108
Document URL: https://search.proquest.com/docview/2042026108?accountid=33337
Copyright: (c) 2018 Dow Jones &Company, Inc. Reproduced with permission of copyright owner.
Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.
Last updated: 2018-05-23
Database: ABI/INFORM Collection
- U.S. News: High Court Rules for Bosses on Arbitration