Today we are seeing the impact one justice can have on the Supreme Court. In Epic Systems Corp vs Lewis the court was asked, “Should employees and employers be allowed to agree that any disputes between them will be resolved through one-on-one arbitration? Or should employees always be permitted to bring their claims in class or collective actions, no matter what they agreed with their employers?” The decision means you can chalk one up for the big guy.
Mark Joseph Stern from Slate writes:
“The Supreme Court issued a 5–4 decision Monday in Epic Systems v. Lewis allowing employers to deprive their workers of their right to sue collectively. Its ruling, written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, blasts a massive hole through post–New Deal labor law, hobbling employees’ ability to recover in court when their employers underpay them. It is difficult to overstate how devastating Epic Systems is to labor rights in America—and how far Gorsuch strays from federal law in order to implement his preferred economic policy.”
For some real-world perspective on today's SCOTUS case: One of the plaintiffs was a low-wage gas-station worker who'd been forced to work off the clock. She and her colleagues got together to sue, but had signed arbitration agreements to get their jobs. Now their lawsuit dies.
— Dave Jamieson, LLC (@jamieson) May 21, 2018
“The Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a liberal think tank, earlier this month said a majority of workers in the country would likely be required, as a condition of employment, to sign these agreements if the court sided with the employers, who were backed by the Trump administration.”
Adam Moskowitz, Founder and Managing Partner of The Moskowitz Law Firm in Miami, has represented millions of consumers in class actions cases where arbitration clauses existed and where they did not. He points out this could be a big blow to workers saying:
“It follows many of the recent cases that have ruled against consumers and in favor of big companies, such as all of the victims of Wells Fargo’s fraudulent billing practices, that requires after they have been vicitimized (like employees here), from even being allowed to file lawsuits in any courts of law but instead, requires them to bring formal arbitration proceedings (after they have harmed) that are often very costly, fought against the biggest and best defense law firms in the country and sometimes make it very hard to get any relief. The good is that people could ask their representatives to simple amend the Federal Arbitration Act to allow such lawsuits.”
In her dissent, Ruth Bader Ginsburg says “the Court’s decision is egregiously wrong.” She goes on to say:
“Employees’ rights to band together to meet their employers’ superior strength would be worth precious little if employers could condition employment on workers signing away those rights.”
“It is very rare that Justice Ginsburg actually read the Court’s dissent from the bench. This typically means that it was a very important issue. The unique nature of the ruling is that it was not decided on any constitutional grounds, so Congress and the public may decide to simply amend the Federal Arbitration Act to allow these types of claims, thereby changing the recent trend that prevents individuals from having any rights to bring lawsuits in a court of law.”
Read the full ruling here.