Congratulations, you have jumped through multiple hoops and have finally landed a great job. You sit down on your first day and are handed a stack of documents to flip through and sign. Such documents include information about your benefits, company memos, an employee handbook, and an arbitration agreement. You flip through the documents, trying to sign each one as quickly as possible so you can start your training and become familiar with your new job. You do not give it much thought. However, what you sign at that moment in the exhilaration of having found your new job, can affect your rights many years later. In particular, where possible, you should avoid signing an arbitration agreement for the following 3 reasons:
- Arbitration Prevents You From Exercising Your Constitutional Right to Have a Trial by Jury.
One of the greatest rights you have in this country is the Constitutional right to have a trial before a jury of your peers. What this means is that you are on level playing field and the people who ultimately decide your case are people like you, i.e., usually employees. Arbitration agreements take this Constitutional right away from you. Oftentimes you are forced into an arbitration with an individual arbitrator, who will decide your fate.
- Arbitrators Are Often Repeat Players For Your Employer and May Have Biases.
Hopefully you will never have to experience an unlawful employment action at all, and if you do, it is very rare that you will have to experience it more than once in your lifetime. However, not surprisingly, employers who break the law are often hit with multiple lawsuits. For that reason, they are repeat players and repeatedly going back to arbitration—oftentimes using the same arbitrator. This may cause the arbitrator to have a conscious or unconscious bias in favor of the employer, who is a repeat player and provides repeat business. Basically as the saying goes, no one wants to bite the hand that feeds him.
- Arbitration is Private.
Remember the big decision that came down last year in that arbitration? The answer to this question is definitely no. Ever wonder why? Well the reason is that most arbitration proceedings are private. This is in your employer’s advantage since they avoid bad publicity and can keep the details of their illegal actions private, even from their own workforce.
In sum, if you have the choice, think twice and avoid signing the arbitration agreement. If you have any questions about your rights, it is best to speak with an experienced employment attorney.