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21 May 2018

Lydia Wheeler, The Hill (USA)

Supreme Court upholds agreements that prevent employee class-action suits

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The Supreme Court’s decision Monday allowing employers to keep employees from joining together in wage and hour disputes could have a dramatic and lasting impact on the American workforce.  In a 5-4 ruling, the justices said arbitration agreements that bar employees from joining together in arbitration or a class-action lawsuit to settle labor disputes are enforceable under the Federal Arbitration Act...Worker rights advocates denounced the decision, fearing it will make it harder for employees to sue their employers for lost wages.  They also warned the ruling will likely lead to more businesses placing “take it or leave it” clauses in their contracts, meaning people will have to waive their right to join a class-lawsuit before they can even get a job...But attorneys who defend employers argue arbitration is more affordable for everyone involved...Though some hail class-action lawsuits as a crucial tool for workers, Pincus said those cases rarely result in big payoffs for the employees involved...Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg disagreed in a scathing dissent, calling the court’s decision “egregiously wrong.”...EPI experts say it may only take six years for more than 80 percent of workplaces to adopt mandatory arbitration with class and collective action waivers...Any legislation barring arbitration agreements, however, is unlikely to go anywhere in the Republican-controlled Congress...The court’s decision Monday came in the cases Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, Ernst & Young LLP v. Morris, and National Labor Relations Board v. Murphy Oil USA Inc...