FAIR Act Aims to Restore Justice for All Americans by Prohibiting Forced Arbitration
The video above advocates for the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act, also known as the FAIR Act. This act would create a prohibition on pre-dispute arbitration agreements, which force consumers and employees to resolve disputes with arbitrators instead of with a judge in a courtroom. The act would also prohibit agreements that prevent employees, consumers and individuals from participating in a class action lawsuit related to employment, civil rights disputes, antitrust or consumer issues.
This bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate on February 28, 2019 by U.S. Representative Hank Johnson (D-GA) and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). The Senate bill, S.610, is co-sponsored by 33 senators and was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The U.S. House of Representatives version, House bill H.R. 1423, was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, and has 160 sponsors.
Under the terms of these bills, forced arbitration agreements would be unenforceable if they were designed to resolve disputes between individuals or groups or a union and another person concerning a work relationship or potential work relationship. This would include a dispute about terms of employment, payment for work, discipline or discharge, or recruiting for work. The bill affects independent contractors in addition to employees.
Arbitration is an advantage to companies because it is much quicker than a lawsuit. Arbitration agreements also have non-disclosure/confidentiality clauses that shield employers and corporations from their actions being made public. (Public scrutiny of corporations and other entities can be a factor in changing policies after complaints or lawsuits are filed against them.) It is also very difficult to appeal an arbitrator’s decision. Judicial review of arbitration is severely restrained.
The third-party arbitrators who are brought in to resolve disputes are often hired by the person or entity the individual has a complaint against. This means arbitrators may be more likely to come up with a resolution that does not favor consumers or employees.
Unfortunately for consumers and employees, forced arbitration agreements are quite common. As the video above says, if you have ever clicked to agree to terms and conditions, you may have already given up your rights.