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House Votes to Ban Forced Arbitration
Author: Emily Peck, Huffington Post, Published on: 20 September 2019
The U.S. House on Friday voted to ban forced arbitration, the increasingly controversial ― and common ― practice of forcing consumers and workers into secret courtrooms where they have no access to a jury and far more limited rights than in the public justice system
The Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act, or Fair Act, would prohibit companies from using so-called pre-dispute arbitration agreements in all employment, civil rights, consumer and antitrust cases. Under the law, Americans could still choose to take a dispute to arbitration ― which companies like to tout as a faster and cheaper alternative to the judicial system ― but no one would be forced to give up their right to go to court.
Because of the role it plays in sexual discrimination, assault and harassment lawsuits, enabling companies to push women into secret courtrooms and hush up misbehavior, forced arbitration has gotten increased attention in recent years. A small number of companies, including Microsoft, Uber and Facebook, have even banned forced arbitration in cases of sexual harassment and discrimination.
About 60 million workers are covered by forced arbitration agreements ― many of whom are unaware they’ve signed away their rights, with agreements tucked away in employee handbooks and buried in employment contracts.
The bill is unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled Senate, but anti-arbitration advocates were thrilled to even get a vote in the House.