Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Will the Supreme Court Agree to Address Pre-Dispute Employment Arbitration Provisions Containing Class and Collective Action Waivers?

Originally published by Beth Graham.

Christine Neylon O’Brien, Professor of Business Law at Boston College – Carroll School of Management has written “Will the Supreme Court Agree with the NLRB that Pre-Dispute Employment Arbitration Provisions Containing Class and Collective Action Waivers in Both Judicial and Arbitral Forums Violate the National Labor Relations Act – Whether There is an Opt-Out or Not?,” University of Pennsylvania Journal of Business Law, Vol. 19, accepted (Forthcoming).  In here article, Professor O’Brien discusses the current split among United States Circuit Courts over the National Labor Relations Board’s numerous recent decisions stating a judicial and arbitral class waiver included in an employment agreement violates the National Labor Relations Act.

Here is the abstract:

Should employers be able to require individual employees to sign away their rights to collective action as a condition of employment? The National Labor Relations Board has held in D.R. Horton and Murphy Oil USA that when employers require employees to waive their right to “joint, class, or collective claims addressing wages, hours, or other working conditions against the employer in any forum, arbitral or judicial” as a condition of employment, this violates the NLRA. Even allowing prospective employees to opt out of such class waivers does not cure the violation in the NLRB’s view according to its decision in On Assignment Staffing Services. A circuit split has developed on enforcement of the Board’s orders on the class waiver issue with the Fifth Circuit denying the NLRB enforcement, the Seventh affirming the Board, and the Eighth Circuit joining the Fifth. There are several appellate cases pending before the Ninth Circuit which has yet to fully develop its stance and approximately sixty class waiver cases pending on appeal. The Supreme Court will likely be faced with deciding one of these appeals soon. This article discusses the NLRB’s and courts’ positions from several recent cases involving class waivers in individual employment dispute agreements. It suggests how the courts and the Supreme Court should rule as well as the possibility of legislative action.

This and other scholarly papers authored by Professor O’Brien may be downloaded without charge from the Social Science Research Network.

Photo credit: Flickr via Remodel / CC BY

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