Employer Arbitration vs. Court

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boogiehead
Posts: 58
Joined: Wed Sep 27, 2017 11:45 pm

Employer Arbitration vs. Court

Post by boogiehead » Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:17 pm

Looking for some insights or if anyone is familiar with the following. My employer just sent out an email to all employees wanting us to sign a mandatory Mutual Arbitration Agreement. "The Mutual Arbitration Agreement is an agreement to arbitrate a claim between you and the company (as opposed to going to court) - it is an agreement about where any claims may be brought."

1) Can they require me to sign this?
2) To me it seems like its not a big deal, but I'm assuming its to the Company's benefit?

Thanks in advance.

Afty
Posts: 908
Joined: Sun Sep 07, 2014 5:31 pm

Re: Employer Arbitration vs. Court

Post by Afty » Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:55 am

This sounds like forced arbitration. It is not to your benefit, but I’m not sure there is anything you can do about it. What happens if you don’t sign the agreement?

https://www.consumeradvocates.org/for-c ... rbitration

Finridge
Posts: 549
Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 7:27 pm

Re: Employer Arbitration vs. Court

Post by Finridge » Tue Feb 12, 2019 4:10 am

boogiehead wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:17 pm
Looking for some insights or if anyone is familiar with the following. My employer just sent out an email to all employees wanting us to sign a mandatory Mutual Arbitration Agreement. "The Mutual Arbitration Agreement is an agreement to arbitrate a claim between you and the company (as opposed to going to court) - it is an agreement about where any claims may be brought."

1) Can they require me to sign this?
2) To me it seems like its not a big deal, but I'm assuming its to the Company's benefit?

Thanks in advance.
1. In most U.S. jurisdictions, if you are an "at will" employee, they will legally likely be able to terminate your employment if they don't sign. They may make an exception for you if you are an exceptionally valuable employee for them, but if they do that, it will be because it is there choice and not because they have to.

2. Yes, this is for their benefit. It may possibly have some benefits for you, depending on the circumstances, but you should expect that it will disproportionately work to the benefit of the employer.

dlabel
Posts: 13
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2019 5:42 pm

Re: Employer Arbitration vs. Court

Post by dlabel » Tue Feb 12, 2019 8:19 am

Definitely not for your benefit. Probably not much you can do it about it unless you want to lead a drive to unionize.

Topic Author
boogiehead
Posts: 58
Joined: Wed Sep 27, 2017 11:45 pm

Re: Employer Arbitration vs. Court

Post by boogiehead » Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:18 pm

Afty wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:55 am
This sounds like forced arbitration. It is not to your benefit, but I’m not sure there is anything you can do about it. What happens if you don’t sign the agreement?

https://www.consumeradvocates.org/for-c ... rbitration
Not sure, but they specifically stated its mandatory so I'm assuming possible termination

michaeljc70
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Re: Employer Arbitration vs. Court

Post by michaeljc70 » Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:28 pm

An arbitration clause has been in every employment contract I've ever signed. It has always been at the start of employment though. It is not necessarily all to their benefit as arbitration is typically cheaper than court. It can prevent class action lawsuits though which is definitely to their benefit.

Chicago60
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Re: Employer Arbitration vs. Court

Post by Chicago60 » Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:42 pm

michaeljc70 wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:28 pm
An arbitration clause has been in every employment contract I've ever signed. It has always been at the start of employment though. It is not necessarily all to their benefit as arbitration is typically cheaper than court. It can prevent class action lawsuits though which is definitely to their benefit.
The above answers are generally correct. Arbitration can be less expensive for all parties and much much faster. But, they also can be private, so employees may not know that others had similar claims and similar employer misconduct, which might help the employee's case. The real material difference is, as I highlighted above, that arbitration agreements likely prohibit class actions where employees can proceed collectively.

dlabel
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Re: Employer Arbitration vs. Court

Post by dlabel » Tue Feb 12, 2019 4:05 pm

I think it goes beyond that. Arbitrators are more likely to be employer friendly then a judge or jury. In many employment law claims, the employee can recover attorneys fees if they win which will make it easier to find an attorney then in an arbitration scenario where you probably can't get fees. The ability to appeal an adverse arbitration award is also extremely limited. Arbitration can actually be more expensive by the time you add in the high filing fees and paying the panel of arbitrators.

Chicago60
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Re: Employer Arbitration vs. Court

Post by Chicago60 » Tue Feb 12, 2019 5:04 pm

dlabel wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 4:05 pm
I think it goes beyond that. Arbitrators are more likely to be employer friendly then a judge or jury. In many employment law claims, the employee can recover attorneys fees if they win which will make it easier to find an attorney then in an arbitration scenario where you probably can't get fees. The ability to appeal an adverse arbitration award is also extremely limited. Arbitration can actually be more expensive by the time you add in the high filing fees and paying the panel of arbitrators.
If a statute provides for an award of fees for the employee if successful, the arbitrator or panel will have the same authority to award fees as a judge would. I agree that filing fees in arbitration can be high, but since resolution is so much faster than a lawsuit, I think you would fine that overall out of pocket expenses are significantly less in arbitration. Nevertheless, employers that require their employees to sign such agreements as a condition of employment, particularly for current employees, are using their bargaining position improperly, in my opinion.

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BolderBoy
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Re: Employer Arbitration vs. Court

Post by BolderBoy » Wed Feb 13, 2019 11:28 am

dlabel wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 8:19 am
Definitely not for your benefit. Probably not much you can do it about it unless you want to lead a drive to unionize.
Not a bad idea to use the threat of unionization to thwart this.
"Never underestimate one's capacity to overestimate one's abilities" - The Dunning-Kruger Effect

michaeljc70
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Re: Employer Arbitration vs. Court

Post by michaeljc70 » Wed Feb 13, 2019 11:38 am

BolderBoy wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 11:28 am
dlabel wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 8:19 am
Definitely not for your benefit. Probably not much you can do it about it unless you want to lead a drive to unionize.
Not a bad idea to use the threat of unionization to thwart this.
Don't union contracts contain arbitration clauses? If you are in a private sector white collar setting, unions are pretty rare.

Thegame14
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Re: Employer Arbitration vs. Court

Post by Thegame14 » Wed Feb 13, 2019 11:39 am

my wife's company did the same, they are trying to limit lawsuits brought against them by employees and former employees. Her company said that she wouldn't receive her yearly raise until she signed it, which of course isn't legal since it is coercion, but I had her sign it and write under duress under her name, just in case.

LiterallyIronic
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Re: Employer Arbitration vs. Court

Post by LiterallyIronic » Wed Feb 13, 2019 11:46 am

BolderBoy wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 11:28 am
dlabel wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 8:19 am
Definitely not for your benefit. Probably not much you can do it about it unless you want to lead a drive to unionize.
Not a bad idea to use the threat of unionization to thwart this.
Indeed. At my last place of employment, they wanted everyone to sign an agreement that included a non-compete with something to the effect of "you will not work for any software company in the state for two years after ending employment with us." Uh, as software developers, that would be completely annihilating our ability to work at all. Almost assuredly unenforceable due to its breadth, and definitely not due to its length (the state's legal maximum non-compete length is one year). However, none of us were going to take that chance and the four of us software developers (its a small company) and the graphic designer all went to the company president together and said we weren't going to sign it. They changed the scope to something we were comfortable with.

YMMV.

epoxyresin
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Re: Employer Arbitration vs. Court

Post by epoxyresin » Wed Feb 13, 2019 12:01 pm

Continued employment is often,but not always, considered to be acceptable consideration for a new contract that an employer would like an employee to sign. The case law around this is usually for non-competes rather than arbitration agreements, so you're mileage may vary.

You could talk to an employment lawyer to see what your options are, though I suspect that if you aren't willing to follow through with an expensive and uncertain lawsuit after getting fired for not signing it, your options might be limited.

Random Poster
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Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2010 10:17 am

Re: Employer Arbitration vs. Court

Post by Random Poster » Wed Feb 13, 2019 12:05 pm

An article worth reading:
This Is What Happens When You Try to Sue Your Boss

Millions of American workers sign away legal rights without knowing what they’re in for: Arbitration Hell.

https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2019 ... tion-hell/

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