AAJ Supports Legislation to Restore Fundamental Rights of Military ServicemembersSeptember 11,2019
Washington, DC – Yesterday, Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Jack Reed (D-RI), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced the Justice for Servicemembers Act, a bipartisan bill that would prohibit the use of forced arbitration on servicemembers when they enforce their rights under the Service Members Civil Relief Act (SCRA) and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). Efforts to end forced arbitration gained momentum yesterday when the House Judiciary Committee passed the FAIR Act out of committee, this broad legislation would also restore the rights of servicemembers as well as end forced arbitration in the consumer, employment, antitrust and civil rights context.
“The brave men and women of our military serve our country by putting their lives on the line to protect our Constitutional rights and freedoms. This is why, throughout history, Congress passes laws in recognition of the significant burdens that these courageous servicemembers face,” said AAJ CEO Linda Lipsen. “Since the early 2000’s, corporations, banks, big business, and employers have been quietly stripping servicemembers of their Constitutional and statutory rights through forced arbitration. Congress must ensure these protections aren’t undermined for our men and women in uniform.”
Signed into law in 2003, SCRA gives rights and protections to servicemembers, covering rental agreements, credit card and mortgage interest rates, automobile leases, and life and health insurance. SCRA also provides for reduced interest on debts and protects service members against default judgments, evictions, mortgage foreclosures and repossessions. Passed by Congress in 1994, USERRA prevents employers from refusing to hire someone based on their military obligations and prevents termination of a servicemember because of time away for military duties.
Lipsen added, “The insidious practice of forced arbitration allows bad actors to break state and federal laws and escape all public accountability, and robs servicemembers of the same fundamental rights they fight to protect. It is unjust, unscrupulous, and un-American. We praise this bipartisan legislation and urge Congress to pass the Justice for Servicemembers Act, and restore the fundamental rights of all military servicemembers.”