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You’re More Likely to Be Hit By Lightning than Win in Forced Arbitration

In the wake of the recent #MeToo movement, many people have started to question the fairness and legality of forced arbitration clauses. By forcing workers and consumers to waive their right to take legal action, companies across the country have benefitted from the private arbitration process, far away from appropriate government oversight. In fact, the American Association for Justice (AAJ) recently released a report that found Americans are more likely to be struck by lightning than to win in forced arbitration.

What Is Forced Arbitration?

According to the AAJ, over 30,000 consumer arbitrations occurred over the last 5 years – and it’s estimated that at least 800 million arbitration clauses are currently in effect right now. Most commonly used in employment contracts and the financial services sector, forced arbitration clauses allow organizations to escape responsibility for alleged wrongdoing, by eliminating the consumer’s fundamental right to bring a lawsuit.

Although advocates for forced arbitration claim that it is a neutral and impartial process, the reality is that these proceedings are often heavily skewed in favor of corporations. Because forced arbitration clauses allow the company to appoint their own third-party arbitrator in disputes, it’s rare that employees are heard with equal weight. As the American Association for Justice found, only 6% of all consumer arbitrations result in any monetary damages for claimants, at an average of just 382 per year. 

Why Forced Arbitration Hurts Consumers

From the products we buy to the jobs we take on, we can expect to receive a certain “duty of care” from corporations. This is because of federal and state legislation that protects consumers from negligence, discrimination, and other forms of wrongdoing. Through forced arbitration, however, many of those essential laws and ethical standards are not applied to major corporations – and the impact on consumers can be devastating.

Take the issue of workplace sexual harassment, for example. Experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace can lead to severe emotional trauma, reduced financial opportunities, and even physical injuries. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, sexual harassment is considered to be a form of illegal discrimination, which means that those who suffer from these unfair acts are entitled to bring civil legal action or official complaints against the perpetrators.

Unfortunately, under forced arbitration clauses, sexual harassment victims can only share their grievances behind closed doors, where they are less likely to receive full compensatory damages even when the harassment can be proven. Left without the right to legal representation and a fair trial, the 60 million Americans who are currently bound by employment arbitration clauses may never recover damages after enduring this kind of discrimination.

Dedicated to Representing Consumers

Recently, there has been a push to eliminate forced arbitration clauses at the federal level. The Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act (FAIR) was introduced to Congress in February 2019, and if passed, this legislation would effectively ban the practice of forced arbitration.

At Anderson Boutwell Traylor, our personal injury lawyers believe that negligent parties have to be held accountable for their actions – and that the best way to accomplish that is often through the civil justice system. Dedicated advocates and passionate negotiators, we can help you take on even the largest corporations and pursue fair compensation for injuries.  

For more information about our legal services, call (985) 796-2245 today.

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