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Forced Arbitration: A Corporate Attack on Workers’ Rights

About the Campaign

The rapid rise of forced arbitration is a serious threat to hard-won workplace rights including minimum wage, earned sick leave, fair workweek laws, and anti-discrimination protections. Forced arbitration clauses are buried in the fine print of many employment contracts and strip workers of their right to join together in court to fight and expose corporate abuse and illegal practices. In arbitration, companies often choose and pay the private arbitrator; there is no public record and no meaningful chance...

The rapid rise of forced arbitration is a serious threat to hard-won workplace rights including minimum wage, earned sick leave, fair workweek laws, and anti-discrimination protections. Forced arbitration clauses are buried in the fine print of many employment contracts and strip workers of their right to join together in court to fight and expose corporate abuse and illegal practices. In arbitration, companies often choose and pay the private arbitrator; there is no public record and no meaningful chance to appeal the arbitrator’s decision. Workers win less often and are awarded less compensation in arbitration than in court. In short, forced arbitration is secretive, biased, and expensive. Because corporations set the rules and stack the deck against workers in arbitration, an estimated 98 percent of employment cases are abandoned by workers before they’re ever brought to court.

Corporate use of forced arbitration clauses is expected to spike sharply following last year’s Supreme Court decision in Epic Systems. By 2024, more than 80 percent of private-sector, non-union workers will have forced arbitration clauses blocking them from court. Soon, only a small minority of American workers will be able to sue their employers when they experience workplace violations.

CPD affiliates and partners are advancing new mechanisms to enforce workplace rights and fight forced arbitration. Make the Road New York, Working Washington, Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste, Maine People’s Alliance, Rights & Democracy, and other allies are leaders in advancing the whistleblower enforcement model as a state policy solution in six campaign states (OR, ME, MA, NY, WA, and VT). The proposed legislation, which authorizes workers to initiate actions on behalf of the state for violations of labor law, would strengthen public enforcement agencies and give them new tools to partner with workers and community organizations. With this policy, and with the advocacy and organizing work of our partners, CPD hopes to realize a new vision of effective enforcement of workplace rights that centers workers and people’s organizations. 

Campaign Blog

CPD and EPI Release New Report on Forced Arbitration and Workers’ Rights

On May 21, 2019, CPD released a new report in partnership with the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), "Unchecked Corporate Power: Forced...

CPD Hosts Webinar on the Fight Against Forced Arbitration

In a webinar on March 5, CPD’s Rachel Deutsch spoke with Tanuja Gupta from End Forced Arbitration, an alliance of Google workers, and Reyna Lopez...

facts & figures

How Forced Arbitration Clauses Affect the Public

  • 93% of people who sign forced arbitration clauses don’t realize that they are losing their right to sue

  • 98% of legal claims are squelched by forced arbitration clauses

  • 60 million Americans -- over half the workforce -- have lost the right to sue their employers with low wage workers, women and African-American workers disproportionately affected...

How Forced Arbitration Clauses Affect the Public

  • 93% of people who sign forced arbitration clauses don’t realize that they are losing their right to sue

  • 98% of legal claims are squelched by forced arbitration clauses

  • 60 million Americans -- over half the workforce -- have lost the right to sue their employers with low wage workers, women and African-American workers disproportionately affected

Percent of Consumer Contracts with Arbitration Clauses

  • 53% credit card accounts

  • 98% payday loans

  • 99% cell phone contracts

News

News

A new report from the Economic Policy Institute and the Center for Popular Democracy says that...

07/17/2019 | Raw Story

...but a new report outlines just tell a tilted the workplace balance of power has become in...

05/31/2019 | Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting

“I think Chicago is breaking new ground in terms of industries where we all know that there are...

05/30/2019 | Bloomberg Law

05.21.2019

NEW YORK -- One year ago, in Epic Systems v. Lewis, the Supreme Court ruled...

05/21/2019

With the Supreme Court striking down laws that require government workers to pay union fees, one...

07/16/2018 | The New York Times