On Friday, January 13, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to hear three cases that will affect the rights of workers all over the country. For the past few decades, employers have increasingly required employees to sign arbitration agreements that contain class action waivers. These agreements can effectively prevent workers from banding together in court to seek wages they are owed, to challenge systematic discrimination, or to protect other workplace rights.
Until recently, employers succeeded in the U.S. Courts of Appeals in enforcing these agreements, including the class waivers. However, in 2016 workers won major victories in two Courts of Appeals, which refused to enforce arbitration agreements containing class waivers. Now, with the U.S. Courts of Appeals split, the Supreme Court has decided to take up the issue.
For workers, the ability to band together to enforce their rights in the workplace is often the only effective way to challenge unlawful practices by employers. Workers’ right to take concerted action to protect their rights in the workplace is enshrined in the federal National Labor Relations Act. As the Supreme Court considers this case, workers’ rights advocates and attorneys who represent employees are hopeful that the Supreme Court upholds this right and puts to rest the argument that employers can require their workers to waive it.
Our firm has represented thousands of workers seeking to enforce their rights to overtime collectively and will be monitoring this case closely. To learn more about our Wage & Overtime practice, click here.
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