The Never Ending Assault on Your Legal Rights

On October 2nd, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in 3 cases having to do with the enforceability of employment contracts which contain clauses mandating that all employment disputes be settled by arbitration and forbidding employees from joining together in class action cases. Obviously, businesses use these contracts as a part of a strategy intended to divide and conquer and to force claims to be decided in private by hand-picked arbitrators (rather than a judge and jury) under rules that are different than a judicial proceeding.

I have previously written extensively about similar coercive contract provisions that appear in consumer contracts such as banking, credit cards, rental cars, cell phones and even nursing homes.

The legal history is that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld by a narrow margin the enforceability of provisions of this type in consumer contracts. Therefore, it seems highly likely that the U.S. Supreme Court will rule in a similar manner now that Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump=s appointee who has a history of being business friendly, has joined the Court.

The argument made by employers is that everyone should be free to enter into contracts, even if the contract involves giving up a constitutional right. However, as every employee will instantly recognize, in an employment situation the employer and employee do not have equal bargaining power and, in almost all situations, insisting on your rights will come at the cost of your job.

If the U.S. Supreme Court sides with business, it will mean that your employer can force you to sign a contract of employment that gives away your right to go to Court and your right to be a part of a class action case as a precondition of your continued employment. If your employer can force you to give up your right to take your claim to a court of law, what other rights can your employer coerce you into giving up?

This is a travesty if it happens and it probably will.

Rights lost are never regained short of an overwhelming shift in the political landscape.


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