When you start a new job, you will likely be faced with a deluge of documents to sign and one of those may be an arbitration agreement. Hopefully, you will read all of the documents you sign because, if not, you may sign away your right to sue your employer in court if you have an employment dispute. There is always a great debate about the legality of arbitration agreements, particularly those that are forced because, if you want that amazing job you have to sign. Recently, a group of Harvard Law students has staged a protest of a top law firm that requires newly hired associates to sign arbitration agreements that waive their rights to sue for employment discrimination, among other things.
Arbitration in Employment Actions is on the Rise
Over the past twenty (20) years, the number of employment disputes that are being resolved through arbitration has continued to increase. Since the Supreme Court endorsed employment arbitration agreements, employees continue to be left with very few options, despite the numerous challenges to "forced" or "mandatory" arbitration.
Employers also use mandatory arbitration clauses because they prevent employees from filing class action lawsuits against them, which is particularly useful for larger companies because they can avoid lawsuits filed by hundreds or even thousands of employees. Arbitration provides many benefits to employers because it saves them a substantial amount of time and money in litigation.
Challenging the Practice of Employment Arbitration Agreements
Unfortunately, in many cases, arbitration clauses violate the rights of employees. These issues can be very tricky. If an employer is trying to enforce a mandatory arbitration clause against an employee, there are many legal issues that need to be analyzed, including whether the agreement is valid.
Recently, a group of law students at Harvard decided to boycott one of the top three law firms in the country, Kirkland & Ellis. According to reports, Kirkland & Ellis has the third-highest profits per partner in the United States at approximately $4,701,000. The goal is to boycott the firm in the summer associate recruiting cycle in the hopes of pressuring the firm to cease the use of mandatory arbitration agreements. The challenged agreements prevent employees from suing the firm based on all employment claims, including discrimination and harassment.
Harvard Student Group Aims to End Harassment and Discrimination in the Legal Profession
The organizers of this boycott anticipate that denying the firm potential summer associates from one of the top law schools will force them to reconsider their use of mandatory arbitration agreements. This student group is known as the Pipeline Parity Project, a group whose goal is to end harassment and discrimination throughout the legal profession.
If you feel you have been the victim of discrimination or retaliation in the workplace, or if you have any other questions regarding your employment rights, please contact the experienced Birmingham employment law attorneys at Michel | King . You can contact us either online or by calling us at (205) 265-1880. We are here to serve you!