Antitrust Subcommittee to Hold Hearing on Forced Arbitration

Thursday, May 9, 2019

WASHINGTON – Making good on his pledge to stand up for working people, House Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David N. Cicilline (RI-01) announced today that he will hold a hearing next Thursday, May 16th, to examine the impact of forced arbitration clauses that allow powerful corporations to override state and federal law and block workers and consumers from access justice in courts of law.

 

“Forced arbitration clauses have become a serious threat to the rule of law,” said Cicilline. “They hurt workers. They hurt consumers. They hurt all of us. We cannot permit powerful corporations to simply ‘opt out’ of the justice system. Congress needs to step in and protect the rights of those who are suffering harm.” 

 

Forced arbitration clauses prevent an employee or customer from taking a company to court to resolve a dispute. Instead, they are required to use an alternative dispute resolution process, often kept secret, in which the parties agree to forfeit many of the rights they would have in a court of law.

 

Large companies deliberately design forced arbitration proceedings to favor themselves over their employees and customers—the company gets to pick who decides the case, as well as the rules that person follows, and can force the weaker employee or customer to keep the decision secret.

 

In recent years, federal courts have permitted forced arbitration in almost any agreement—including in civil rights cases and workplace harassment. As a result, forced arbitration clauses have become so common in American life that they are almost impossible to avoid. Nearly every American that uses a cell phone is subject to a forced arbitration agreement. 

 

“We will put an end to forced arbitration so our legal system works for the people,” added Cicilline.  

 

The Majority witnesses at the hearing are experts on arbitration, as well as individuals who were directly impacted by forced arbitration including:

 

  • Professor Myriam Gilles, Professor of Law, Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law;
  • Ms. Gretchen Carlson, a journalist, author, and advocate;
  • Mr. Deepak Gupta, Founding Principal, Gupta Wessler PLLC;  and
  • Mr. Kevin Ziober, Lieutenant, U.S. Navy Reserves.

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