More American Workers Facing Employment Arbitration

The right of American workers to take their employers to court has in recent years been seriously challenged and even denied. This is directly related to the increasing use of arbitration in settling employment disputes.
The right to sue an employer for discrimination, harassment or various other reasons has long been a vital element of the American justice system. Less than 30 years ago, 98 percent of the Americans who worked without union representation had the right to redress for grievances, which is guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution. According to one estimate, more than half of the nonunion workers in the United States are currently covered under the principle of arbitration. This change is largely attributable to rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court. More about the issue of arbitration is available at
Direct arbitration was originally used in settling disputes between commercial interests. In individual employment issues, this policy offers some of the same advantages as when used by businesses. Arbitration is generally less complicated and less costly than court action, and cases can usually be resolved in a shorter period of time. However, the damages awarded to plaintiffs are generally smaller than in cases adjudicated in civil courts. Additionally, employees may not be aware of the restrictions that may be involved, including a clause that requires complete confidentiality on their part after they take action against their employers.
Other restrictions have been recommended or imposed, with a new federal law prohibiting class action lawsuits in consumer contracts that are governed under the rules of arbitration. On the other hand, some members of the U.S. Congress have proposed a measure that would prohibit the use of arbitration in personal harassment cases. In the end, the issue comes down to whether Americans will be able to exert their constitutional rights.