House passes landmark bill to end forced arbitration and restore Americans’ rights | The American Association For Justice

House passes landmark bill to end forced arbitration and restore Americans’ rights

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Kate Halloran

a photo of the Congress building

A landmark bill to end forced arbitration of employment, civil rights, consumer, and antitrust disputes passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Sept. 20 by a bipartisan vote of 225-186. The “Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal (FAIR) Act” (H.R. 1423), first introduced by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) in February, had 222 cosponsors, and its passage in the House is a significant development in the longtime effort to end forced arbitration and protect the Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial.
 

A landmark bill to end forced arbitration of employment, civil rights, consumer, and antitrust disputes passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Sept. 20 by a bipartisan vote of 225-186. The “Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal (FAIR) Act” (H.R. 1423), first introduced by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) in February, had 222 cosponsors, and its passage in the House is a significant development in the longtime effort to end forced arbitration and protect the Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial. If passed by the Senate and enacted into law, the FAIR Act, which applies to individual actions as well as joint, class, or collective actions, would restore the right to hold corporations accountable when they physically or financially harm people. In previous congresses, similar legislation was introduced, known as the “Arbitration Fairness Act.” The legislation has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Several people who have been harmed by forced arbitration shared their stories with members of Congress and the public to garner support for the legislation, including Google employees who successfully protested the company’s use of forced arbitration in sexual harassment and other workplace disputes, a woman who was sexually assaulted at a spa, Chipotle employees who were not paid for overtime work, and a couple who lost their jobs after complaining about racial discrimination.

A survey conducted earlier this year by Hart Research Associates found that 84% of respondents said they would support federal legislation to end forced arbitration for consumers and employees, with 87% of Republicans and 83% of Democrats in favor. Respondents also largely opposed two main facets of arbitration: that the company typically selects the arbitrator and that consumers do not have a choice between arbitration or going to court. And 67% of respondents said they would rather have their claims heard by a judge or jury.

AAJ CEO Linda Lipsen said, “The House of Representatives passed historic legislation that would end forced arbitration and restore Americans’ constitutional right to be heard by a judge and jury. Forced arbitration allows large corporations to systematically evade accountability when they break the law. When this bill passes both houses of Congress, corporations will no longer be allowed to immunize themselves and silence employees, consumers, nursing home residents, sexual assault survivors, and victims of financial fraud. We congratulate all the champions in Congress for their persistence in securing the bill’s passage and thank the tireless victim advocates who bravely shared the harmful impacts forced arbitration has had on their lives. We now urge the Senate to take up this important legislation and restore Americans’ constitutional rights.”