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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      House Committee on Education and the Workforce
      House Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedOctober 30th, 2018

What is it?

This bill — the Restoring Justice for Workers Act — would prohibit forced arbitration in employment disputes, barring employers from requiring employees to waive their rights to engage in joint, class, or collective legal action. It would also reverse the Supreme Court’s 5-4 in Epic Systems v. Lewis, which allowed businesses to require employees to settle disputes through arbitration instead of pursuing class action lawsuits.

Impact

Workers; employment contracts; labor disputes; and the Supreme Court.

Cost

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) introduced this bill to overrule the 2018 Supreme Court decision in Epic Systems v. Lewis by ending forced arbitration clauses and protecting workers’ abilities to pursue work-related claims in court:

“For far too long, corporations have tied the hands of American workers through the use of forced arbitration clauses, which are often buried in the fine print of employment contracts and used as a precondition for employment. Forced arbitration strips working Americans of their day in court to hold employers accountable for wage theft, discrimination, harassment and many other forms of misconduct. I am proud to introduce the Restoring Justice for Workers Act to finally put an end to this exploitation of American workers and to ensure they have equal protection under the law to hold their employers accountable for illegal behavior.”

The National Employment Law Project (NELP) and Fair Arbitration Now Coalition, comprising of the Alliance for Justice, Americans for Financial Reform, AFL-CIO, AFSCME, and others, supports this legislation:

“Forced arbitration clauses are ubiquitous in corporate contracts with consumers and workers. These fine-print terms require disputes to be resolved in private arbitration proceedings instead of in court. In addition, the clauses often block class actions, barring individuals from banding together to resolve related claims. Forced arbitration is not a legitimate alternative method for workers to resolve disputes with their more powerful employers. Individual forced arbitration cannot address widespread harm and misconduct, such as wage disputes, systemic discrimination and harassment, which can impact large groups of employees in a workplace. In addition, forced arbitration squashes valid legal claims from ever going forward by sending them to a secretive process and forcing complainants to act on their own, which can be too costly of an endeavor particularly if the individual claim is relatively small… The Restoring Justice for Workers Act correctly recognizes the fundamental rights and protections at stake. We strongly support this bill that would reinstate worker protections by eliminating forced arbitration clauses and class action bans in employment contracts, and would ensure that arbitration is truly voluntary, allowing all parties to choose court or arbitration after disputes arise.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who dissented in the Epic Systems v. Lewis decision, called the Court’s decision “egregiously wrong” and argued that the decision would lead to “huge under-enforcement of federal and state statutes designed to advance the well being of vulnerable workers.”

In a post on the Economic Policy Institute’s Working Economics blog, Celine McNicholas and Heidi Shierholz argue that the new Democratic House should make worker empowerment a priority. As part of that agenda, they argue that this bill should be a top priority for the Democratic majority.

When the Supreme Court ruled on Epic Systems v. Lewis, the majority argued that there are policy arguments on both sides of the issue when it comes to forced arbitration agreements, but concluded that the role of the courts is to interpret governing statutes. In the majority opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote:

“The respective merits of class actions and private arbitration as means of enforcing the law are questions constitutionally entrusted not to the courts to decide but to the policymakers in the political branches where those questions remain hotly contested.”

This bill has the support of 58 House cosponsors, all of whom are Democrats. There is a Senate companion bill to this legislation, sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and seven other Democrats.


Of NoteIn a 5-4 decision in May 2018, the Supreme Court held in Epic Systems v. Lewis that employers can use forced arbitration clauses that require workers to settlement disputes with their employer through arbitration and waive their right to pursue class action lawsuits.

In 2017, the Economic Policy Institute reported that around 60 million American workers are subject to mandatory employment arbitration procedures.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / utah778)

AKA

Restoring Justice for Workers Act

Official Title

To prohibit forced arbitration in employment disputes, and for other purposes.

    These forced arbitration agreements only exists to protect the corporations from viable lawsuits against them. They prevent people from pursuing legal action when they’ve been taken advantage of by companies. They don’t protect people they protect corporate profit margins and ruthless exploitive behavior.
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    ???? RETAINING UNION INFLUENCE IN WORK FORCE ???? Am I wrong or is this just another means to protect and retaining, of the union influence across, the working labor force? I’m Just Curious. SneakyPete.... ??🤔?? 11*21*18.....
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    Forced arbitration deprives people of their right to a fair trial
    Like (67)
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    Workers seem to have fewer and fewer protections from employer malfeasance. Workers should be allowed to join legitimate class action lawsuits against employers.
    Like (47)
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    This is just a way of an employer holding a job over someone’s head until you agree if they screw up or violate your rights then they will take the path that will cause the least harm to the employer.
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    Just another way for corporate American to take advantage of there employees
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    Yes. Human beings have rights and deserve to be protected under the Constitution. Corporations should not have rights that supersede the protections of Human beings, in which a Corporation can wield power over its subjects and inflict unethical acts and injustices on any Human being.
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    Forced arbitration agreements, especially as a requirement of employment or even purchase of products, is an unethical practice. It prevents large numbers of employees from addressing a widespread problem in a concentrated effort. While there be some attempt at good faith from the employees/customers, forced arbitration removes any show of good faith from the complainant and forces them to accept any outcome, whether positive or negative.
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    Forced Arbitration protects those who already hold the power of writing the paychecks and already control much of our country – corporations. True arbitration where everyone gets enough is a great idea, but distorted arbitration forced on employees who holds so little of the power in the situation already is the only more oppressive.
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    It would also reverse the Supreme Court’s 5-4 in Epic Systems v. Lewis, which allowed businesses and corporations to require employees to settle disputes through arbitration instead of pursuing class action lawsuits. It about time to give the people, their rights back!
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    The work place should not be treated as a war game where there are winners and losers. Workers need a level playing field especially when greed and injustice rule. Workplaces should be win win where workers are treated with respect and honor. This is why we have unions to protect the little guy from injustice. Arbitration may be ok but a class action law suit puts meat on them bones. You don't put a bandaid on a severed arm.
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    The companies should not have rights and leverage above the employees with respect to arbitration. Corporations already hold all of the power and have shown they cannot be trusted to operate fairly and honesty. There needs to be an outside and independent party involved in the process.
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    Forced arbitration agreements are only meant to give employers the upper-hand in any dispute between them and the employee. Any wrongdoing by a corporation against their employees can essentially be thrown under the rug. If these disputes are settled in court, the employer will be more likely to lose. These types of agreements should be illegal!
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    Due process can never be seen if they are forced to forfeit their right prior to becoming employed.
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    Yes forced arbitration should be banned while arbitration can indeed be a good thing employees should not be forced to sign away their rights by employers especially since the Supreme Court made them just people too these days. Let’s truly make America Great Again and stop abolishing employee rights.
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    It should be up to the complainant how they want to address their grievances with their employer. Forced arbitration robs employees of their right to fair employment practices and labor standards that are currently law within this country. Also how can the complainant be guaranteed that the arbitrator will he impartial? Why are we affording corporations more rights and benefits than our own citizens?
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    Why would an employer have forced arbitration unless he clearly anticipates screwing over his employees?
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    Ban this illegitimate practice. It prevents justice.
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    I wish our elected officials would start protecting the people over corporations!
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    Forced arbitration is just another way to keep workers powerless, along with the killing of unions, low pay (and all that entails) and right-to-work. Workers need a level playing field in order to be productive and to do their jobs well. Constantly keeping workers apprehensive about their financial future and their job security, dulls positivity, creativity and productivity. If employers want high productivity, then they need to keep their employees positive and secure, by paying them well and allowing them to bargain and to be able to pursue legal action if the case calls for it. The higher the productivity from employees means more profit for employers, as such it never ceases to amaze me that employers prefer to keep their foot on the necks of their employees and then bitch and moan when the employees revolt.
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