For Immediate Release: December 17, 2013
Contact: Katie Gommel
202-965-3500, ext. 6645
Congress Must Revoke Corporations’ License to Steal
Senate Judiciary Committee Holds Hearing on Forced Arbitration
Washington, DC—The following is a statement from American Association for Justice President Burton LeBlanc on the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing addressing forced arbitration:
“Buried in the fine print of many contracts – from credit card and nursing home contracts to employee handbooks and online user agreements – are dangerous forced arbitration clauses that eliminate access to justice and allow corporations to evade accountability.
“Forced arbitration grants corporations a license to steal and violate the law.
“The ability of Americans to seek justice in our courts, even when up against the most powerful corporate interests, is an essential part of our democracy. When consumers and small businesses lose access to the courts, corporations can get away with the worst.
“Without Congressional action, all federal and state civil rights, employment, antitrust, and consumer protections are at risk of being wiped away by forced arbitration.
“Congress must protect their constituents from the abusive practice of forced arbitration and pass the Arbitration Fairness Act to restore Americans’ rights to seek justice in the courts.
- The National Association of Consumer Attorneys, Texas Watch, and Take Justice Back launched petitions urging the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to ban forced arbitration. As of Tuesday morning, over 18,000 consumers signed the petitions. The petitions are online here: https://www.change.org/petitions/revoke-banks-license-to-steal-stop-forced-arbitration and here: http://www.texaswatch.org/2013/12/feds-to-consider-banning-forced-arbitration-during-dallas-hearing.
- Forced arbitration clauses are widespread and affect over 80 million credit cardholders in the United States, according to a CFPB study.
- The CFPB study also found, on average under 300 forced arbitration disputes are filed by credit card, checking account and loan consumers each year.
- The Arbitration Fairness Act (S.878/H.R.1844) would:
o Eliminate forced arbitration in employment, consumer, civil rights, and anti-trust cases.
o Ensure that the decision to arbitrate is truly voluntary.
o Restore the fundamental rights created by state and federal laws that are currently at risk of being wiped out by forced arbitration.
- Laws at Risk of Being Wiped Out by Forced Arbitration:
o Age Discrimination in Employment Act
o Americans with Disabilities Act
o Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1991
o Credit Repair Organizations Act
o Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act
o Electronic Fund Transfer Act
o Equal Pay Act
o Fair Credit Reporting Act
o Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
o Fair Labor Standards Act
o False Claims Act
o Family and Medical Leave Act
o Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009
o National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (amending the Military Lending Act)
o Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act
o Right to Financial Privacy Act
o Sarbanes-Oxley Act
o Securities Act of 1933
o Securities Exchange Act of 1934
o Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
o Sherman Antitrust Act
o Telephone Consumer Protection Act
o The civil provisions of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act
o Truth in Lending Act
o Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)