Forced Arbitration

Forced arbitration is a rigged, secretive process that strips employees, consumers, and patients of their constitutional right to hold law-breaking corporations publicly accountable in court.

Yet, forced arbitration has infiltrated nearly every aspect of American life by permeating virtually every product, service, or job – leaving Americans with no real choice: Individuals must either give up their right to seek justice and accountability or forego the job, product, or service altogether. What individual can afford to pass up a job opportunity, give up the bed in a nursing home for their parent, not take a credit card, or pass on access to a cell phone?

The pervasiveness of forced arbitration isn’t coincidental. Companies use it because the system is rigged to favor corporations at the expense of hardworking Americans.

By requiring people to give up their rights, often without them knowing, corporations avoid accountability and hide their misconduct from the public, even in cases that raise important health, safety, or economic security issues.

Now more than ever, we must defend Americans’ access to the courtroom.

How Americans Are Hurt by Forced Arbitration:

  • One-sided – Most forced arbitration clauses require individuals to waive their rights, while allowing the corporation to sue in court.
  • Costly – Individuals are often required to pay steep upfront fees to go to arbitration, as well as pay the arbitrator’s hourly charge, which can quickly amount to thousands of dollars. In addition, forced arbitration allows the corporation to choose the location, regardless of how inconvenient or costly travel is for the individual.
  • Biased Decision-Makers – Since corporations are the repeat users of forced arbitration, there is an incentive for the arbitrator to rule in favor of the corporation in order to reap the benefits of repeat business.
  • Selective Evidence – Forced arbitration often severely restricts the individual’s ability to argue their side of the case, including restricting the evidence that can be used. Also, it is nearly impossible to appeal an arbitrator’s decision.
  • Secret Proceedings – While what happens in court is part of the public record, most forced arbitration proceedings are secret, keeping corporate misconduct out of the public eye, even if what the corporation is doing puts the public at risk.

The Fight to Restore Americans’ Rights:

  • The Arbitration Fairness Act (S. 2591/H.R. 1374) would eliminate the use of forced arbitration in employment, consumer, civil rights, and anti-trust cases restoring the rights of consumers and workers.
  • The Ending Arbitration of Sexual Harassment Act (S. 2203/H.R. 4734) would restore the rights of sexual harassment survivors to hold their workplace abusers publicly accountable in court.
  • The Secure Our Savings coalition is fighting for the rights of hardworking Americans, including first responders, teachers, and retired servicemembers, as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission fuels speculation that the Commission will allow publicly traded corporations to use forced arbitration clauses against their investors.