Supreme Court Determines that Workers Cannot Band Together to Challenge Workplace Violations

AKRON, Ohio. The Supreme Court recently issued a ruling that can seriously impact worker’s rights. According to NPR, the Supreme Court upheld the right of employers to enforce arbitration agreements, and also determined that workers cannot band together to fight wage and hour violations. Arbitration agreements often include clauses that limit the ability of a person to join a class-action lawsuit. Many see this as a major blow to worker’s rights.

Arbitration agreements are highly-criticized because they are often used by employers to deny workers the right to sue a company in court. If an employer faces sexual harassment charges, charges of having a hostile work environment, or if workers feel that they have fallen victim to wage violations, an arbitration agreement limits worker’s rights to sue their employer in court. Workers would only be permitted to pursue a claim in a private setting using private judges. Many believe that this process hurts worker’s rights and denies them their constitutional right to have their day in court if workplace laws are violated.

Employers often have the upper hand when they hire workers under arbitration agreements. Workers have the option to sign the agreements or not take the job.

Many believe that employers will move to require workers to sign more binding arbitration clauses, limiting worker’s rights and their ability to collectively mobilize. Seeking back pay can be costly in terms of litigation, and worker’s best chance to fight wage violations is to band together. There may also be implications for the #MeToo movement with this ruling. When workers are required to sign arbitration agreements, in many cases, these agreements require workers to settle sexual harassment claims in private. Workplaces that have proven hostile or damaging to women and other workers can hide under arbitration protections.

According to Wired, arbitration clauses came under fire when it became known that the tech sector used arbitration clauses to keep some of its sexual harassment cases under wraps. Uber recently announced that it would eliminate its arbitration clauses regarding sexual harassment claims. However, other tech companies are still pushing for arbitration in sexual harassment cases and Uber still has an arbitration clause that restricts workers from banding together in a class action lawsuit.

Critics of the Supreme Court ruling worry that arbitration clauses will become standard business operating procedure, and that employers who don’t use these clauses will be at a competitive disadvantage to companies that do. Arbitration clauses help promote secrecy when companies engage in wage violations, wage theft, or when companies have a pervasive problem of sexual harassment.

The House and Senate still have the ability to change the laws through legislation, but the court found that the law upholds arbitration agreements.

If you’ve suffered sexual harassment on the job, wage and hour violations, or have faced other issues that you believe are in violation of your rights, reach out to the Akron, Ohio employment lawyers at the Law Offices of F. Benjamin Riek III. Our firm can review your case and help you understand your rights, whether or not your claim is subject to arbitration. You can still seek justice, even if you have signed an arbitration agreement. Visit us at https://www.ohioemploymentrights.com/ to learn about your options.


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