Ten years ago, Chase was forced to withdraw the binding arbitration clauses in its credit card agreements as part of a settlement in a class-action suit (the company was accused of conspiring with other banks to force all credit-card customers to accept binding arbitration) (one of the things binding arbitration does is deprive you of your right to join class-action suits!). — Read the rest
Binding arbitration is a way for corporations to force you to surrender your legal rights as a condition of doing business, relegating you to seeking redress for breaches and harms by going before a paid arbitrator who is in the employ of the company that harmed you, and who almost always sides with their employer.
Back in January, an Ontario court ruled that Uber's arbitration clause couldn't keep its drivers from suing it; Uber has appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, which has taken up the case and will hear arguments about whether arbitration clauses (through which the parties surrender the right to sue in court) are enforceable in "adhesion contracts" (contracts that are not negotiated, where one party has much less power than the other, such as in click-through agreements).
'League of Legends' developers and others at Riot Games walked out of work en masse on Monday, protesting the company's use of forced arbitration to settle sexual harassment lawsuits.
Forced arbitration "agreements" are how corporate America gets workers, tenants and customers to sign away their legal rights, substituting kangaroo courts where the "judge" is a lawyer paid by the corporation that abused you, and where the rules are whatever the corporation says they should be; The FAIR Act invalidates the use of arbitration to settle disputes over employment, consumer rights, antitrust and civil rights; it has 147 co-sponsors in the House and 34 in the Senate (all Democrats — Republicans love forced arbitration!), — Read the rest
The waves of protests and walkouts that swept Google last year had many grievances and concerns, from the company's Pentagon contract to supply AI for drones to the secret creation of a censored search tool for the Chinese market, but one central flashpoint was the revelation that the company had paid Android exec $90 million to quietly leave the company after a string of disturbing sexual harassment and abuse incidents came to light.
When outraged googlers walked off the job last year to protest the company's practice of secretly paying off serial sexual assaulters and harassers, while denying employees the right to sue over harassment through arbitration clauses in their contracts, Google CEO Sundar Pichai promised revise Google employment contracts to remove mandatory arbitration for individual sexual harassment claims.
The Ontario Court of Appeal has ruled that Uber can't use binding arbitration "agreements" to stop its drivers from joining a class action suit against the company; the court held that the arbitration clause was "illegally outsourcing an employment standard."
Binding arbitration is corporate America's favorite dirty trick: to use a product, you are forced to give up your right to sue if the company hurts you, cheats you, or even kills you.
Ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft have now both stated that they will no longer force victims of sexual assault into non-binding arbitration, as has been the practice of both firms until today. — Read the rest
One of the cases that the Supreme Court heard this season was NLRB v. Murphy Oil USA, Inc. which rolls up several cases where employers are hoping to establish that they can force prospective employees to sign a mandatory arbitration waiver as a condition of employment; if they prevail, the majority of workplaces in America will likely adopt the practice.
A class action suit by some of the 3,500,000+ Wells Fargo customers defrauded in the company's fake account scam was foundering in Utah, thanks to the company's insistence that its binding arbitration clauses also applied to the accounts it fraudulently opened (that is, by agreeing not to sue the company for defrauding you over the accounts you opened, you were also agreeing not to sue them if it opened a bunch more accounts and forged your signature on the papers).
During the five weeks after hackers stole 143 million Americans' data from Equifax, and while its execs were selling off their stock by the millions, the company sprang into action, producing an insecure site for checking whether your own data was breached that produces the same output no matter what name and SSN you input.
AT&T, which has successfully lobbied state governments and the FCC to ban any broadband competition in the markets where it operates, says that its forced arbitration "agreements" aren't really forced, because people in the markets it serves could just not use the internet.
In 2016, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services barred nursing homes from forcing their residents into accepting binding arbitration agreements that would move all legal claims into business-friendly fake courts where the proceedings are often secret, and where the presiding fake judges draw their pay from the companies that are accused of malfeasance.
Wells Fargo got caught ripping off millions of customers by setting up fake accounts in their names, then billing them for "services" related to those accounts, sometimes tanking their credit-ratings, costing them jobs, even their houses — but the company says you're not allowed to sue them because their employees fraudulently signed your name to a "binding arbitration" agreement that forces you to take your case to a fake judge whose salary they pay.
When you sign up for a Wells Fargo account, you're required to sign an arbitration "agreement" giving up your right to sue the company, and requiring you to have your case heard by an arbitrator paid for by — and dependent on — Wells Fargo instead.
Arbitration was conceived of as a way to allow giant corporations to avoid costly court battles by meeting with a mediator and talking things out: but since the Supreme Court ruled (in a series of mid-1980s cases) that companies could force their customers and employees into arbitration by adding "binding arbitration" clauses to the fine print in take-it-or-leave contracts, the US justice system has gone dark, which an ever-larger proportion of legal action disappearing into the opaque bowels of the arbitration system, where the richest participant usually wins.
Borrowing a trick from the Comcast/AT&T playbook, Google Fiber now forces customers who are unhappy with the service to surrender their right to sue and to join class actions in favor of binding arbitration, a one-sided system of shadow courts that overwhelmingly delivers rulings in favor of the big companies that pay for it.