TO CONSUMERS, WORKERS
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and U.S. Representative Hank Johnson (D-GA) led a group of 37 senators, including U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), and more than 80 members of the House of Representatives in introducing legislation to stop the use of unfair forced arbitration clauses, which are widely used to limit Americans’ access to justice. The FAIR (Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal) Act would eliminate forced arbitration clauses in consumer, antitrust, employment, and civil rights cases, and would allow consumers and workers to freely choose arbitration after a dispute occurs.
“Forced arbitration is unfair and un-American. Workers forced into a rigged arbitration system have lost one of the most powerful tools they have to hold employers accountable for gambling with their safety: access to justice,” Blumenthal said. “But workers aren’t the only ones at risk – nearly every American been stripped of their basic right to justice, whether they know it or not. One of the fundamental principles of our American democracy is that everyone gets their day in court. Forced arbitration deprives Americans of that basic right. The Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act simply rights that basic wrong.”
“Forced arbitration is an underhanded maneuver that corporations use to trick consumers, workers and small businesses out of their right to go to court and seek damages from a jury of their peers,” said Johnson. “You can’t get a cell phone or credit card or even a job nowadays unless you sign away your rights because that’s what every corporation requires. They force you into binding arbitration because it benefits them, and it’s at your expense. If this sounds unfair, it is. Big businesses that already had all the power in the relationship between itself and someone like you or me, stacked the deck so that they can avoid the only thing out there that could hold them accountable – the United States justice system.”
Forced arbitration clauses restrict Americans’ access to justice by stripping consumers and workers of their right to go to court. Instead, consumers and workers are forced into an unfair arbitration system where corporations can write the rules; everything can be done in secret, without public rulings; discovery can be limited, making it hard for consumers to get the evidence they need to prove their case; and there’s no meaningful judicial review, so consumers and employees are often unable to appeal a decision even if the arbitrator gets it wrong.
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