Can My Employer Enforce My Arbitration Clause? Supreme Court Says Yes
Early this week, the Supreme Court of the United States decided that arbitration clauses in individual employment contracts are enforceable against employees seeking to bring class-action lawsuits. This ruling will have an immediate, profound impact, and will alter the way employment attorneys like myself will be able to seek remedies in certain claims. For example, often times with Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) claims, primarily concerning violations of minimum wage and failure to pay overtime, other employees do not know that a violation has occurred or is occurring until they are notified that they may be eligible to become a member of a class-action. Like Justice Ginsberg more or less stated in her dissent, enforcing arbitration clauses like this could result in effectively stopping employees from holding employers accountability for violations of the FLSA, because the cost of litigation for an individual employee is often more than the amount at issue.
Something else to consider is how the enforcement of individual arbitration clauses will prevent access to legal services and remedies for those who may not know how to search for attorneys or those that may be fearful of bringing an individual action against their employer. Before, these two groups of people could “join” a class-action lawsuit that one of their co-workers previously filed. Now, these people must independently research and find representation and potentially risk being retaliated against by their employer after they bring a suit individually. Although retaliation in that instance would be illegal, the employer can still choose to retaliate and subject an employee to financial hardship simply for trying to stop the employer’s illegal conduct.
Despite this devastating blow to employee rights, I will continue to fight for employee rights when it comes to wage and overtime claims and continue to hold employers accountable for their violations of the FLSA and otherwise. If you currently feel that you may have a claim for unpaid wages or overtime, please contact me and we can discuss your options.