Facebook and Google to End Controversial Forced Arbitration Policies

arbitration, Naperville business lawyerTwo of the biggest names in technology have recently decided to change a long-standing policy called forced arbitration or mandatory arbitration in matters related to sexual harassment. The policy prevented employees from pursuing sexual harassment claims through the court and instead required them to settle the cases through arbitration. After Google and Facebook announced the end of mandatory arbitration, several other huge companies followed suit. Hospitality company AirBnB, as well as the multinational e-commerce corporation Ebay, have now announced that they too will end similar policies. While opinions about these types of policies vary, many experts worry that mandatory arbitration prevents employees from exercising certain Constitutional rights.

What Exactly is Forced Arbitration?

If you have ever started a new job, you probably remember the piles of paperwork which must be filled out and signed by new employees. Among these papers may have been a clause which explains that if an employee believes he or she has been the victim of sexual harassment, that he or she will settle the dispute out of court. Employees are encouraged to use a private arbitrator, similar to a mediator or judge, who hears both sides of the story and then issues a ruling. Employees who sign forced arbitration agreements do not have the option of pursuing sexual harassment claims through the traditional court system.

Why Do Some Believe Mandatory Arbitration is Unconstitutional?

The U.S Constitution guarantees citizens many essential rights. The Sixth and Seventh Amendments to the Constitution specifically deal with the issue of the right to trial. Under the Sixth Amendment, a criminal defendant has the right to know any charges filed against him or her and to defend themselves in a court of law. The Seventh Amendment deals with the rights of civil litigants. It guarantees that “the right of a trial by jury shall be preserved” in civil court cases that involve sums of greater than $20. Employees who are forced into binding arbitration will not get the opportunity to file a civil lawsuit and will have no option to request a jury trial.

Citizens always have the right to take their case before an arbitrator instead of going to court. This can be a cost-saving alternative to an expensive trial. However, some employees admit that they have signed forced arbitration agreements without really understanding what they are, thereby signing away their Constitutional right to a trial by jury without even realizing it. Furthermore, some experts have suggested that businesses purposely choose arbitrators who are biased or who seldom rule in favor of employees.

Contact a Naperville Business Lawyer

Arbitration clauses are a component of many business contracts. If you are in a business dispute which could go to arbitration, contact The Gierach Law Firm today. Call our knowledgeable Oak Brook business law attorneys by calling 630-756-1160.

 

Sources:

Washington Post

Legal Information Institute