Supreme Court to rule on workers' rights in employment disputes

Unions were created to help protect the rights of employees and establish fair workplace practices. However there has been a trend lately to try and subvert employees' rights to file a group action against a company that has failed to meet certain employment agreements. A coming U.S. Supreme Court decision could affect the lives of workers here in California and everywhere else.

The U. S. Supreme Court has decided to hear the case, which is based upon three separate lawsuits. Each one stems from an employer's demand that all workers sign an agreement barring them from filing a civil lawsuit against the company for incorrect payroll disbursements or other alleged wrongdoings. The contract states that the employee agrees to submit to a binding arbitration in the event that he or she has a grievance against the company. 

Many companies have elected to require new hires to sign these forms to guard against a court awarding a large monetary judgment to employees that could severely impact a company's financial well-being. The three lawsuits before the Supreme Court all address the question as to whether it is permissible to require an employee to agree to binding arbitration with regard to any claims that the employer breached the employment contract -- specifically, not receiving pay for overtime work. Millions of employees have been required to surrender their rights to seek relief through the courts if their company's actions deny them rightful pay or other injustices. 

The National Labor Relations Board and consumer rights groups support the rights of workers to work together to correct a company's unlawful practices through litigation when necessary. At this point, two of the lower courts that have made rulings in the three cases have decided that the documents are not enforceable and employees can seek relief through civil lawsuits. California workers facing these issues have every right to consult with an employment law attorney to gain an understanding of their legal rights and to seek appropriate legal recourse to enforce them.

Source: startribune.com, "Justices will weigh limits on worker rights to sue employers", Sam Hananel, Jan. 13, 2017

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