Welcome news for employers: companies can require their workers go through arbitration to pursue any legal claims against their employers, rather than go to court or join together in class lawsuits or grievances, the US Supreme Court held today in a 5-4 vote.
Writing for the majority in three consolidated cases (Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, NLRB v. Murphy Oil USA, Inc., and Ernst & Young LLP v. Morris), Justice Neil Gorsuch said the Federal Arbitration Act sets a strong policy favoring the enforcement of arbitration agreements, and employees of the three companies failed to show they had any right to disregard the arbitration agreements they signed.
The policy may be debatable but the law is clear: Congress has instructed that arbitration agreements like those before us must be enforced as written. While Congress is of course always free to amend this judgment, we see nothing suggesting it did so in the NLRA — much less that it manifested a clear intention to displace the Arbitration Act. Because we can easily read Congress’s statutes to work in harmony, that is where our duty lies.
The ruling means that companies can enforce their class action waiver agreements and their employees will have to pursue their claims in individual arbitration proceedings. Please stay tuned for more to come from us on the actions employers should take now in response to this important decision.
Last week the EEOC released its charge statistics from fiscal year 2017, which ran from Oct 1, 2016 through Sept 30, 2017.
- Retaliation was the most common claim in FY 2017, followed by race discrimination, disability discrimination, sex discrimination (all types, including sexual harassment), age discrimination, national origin discrimination, and religious discrimination.
- Charges were down a bit in all categories, but monetary relief was up in LGBT cases and, in sexual harassment cases, was at the highest level since 2010. BUT — note that the EEOC’s fiscal year ended before the #MeToo movement began so we predict the 2018 statistics will paint a very different picture.
- Further, note that the EEOC’s new online portal, launched in November 2017, which makes it incredibly easy for individuals to sign in and file charges.