JGL principal attorney Brian Markovitz attended a United States Senate Judiciary hearing regarding forced arbitration on Nov. 8. During the hearing, Brian’s client from a previous case was recognized by Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) as an example of women who was sexually harassed and then harmed a second time by forced arbitration.
Forced arbitration clauses in workplace contracts require employees to settle disputes through a process of arbitration, rather than in court. The employee often waives their right to sue or to participate in a class action lawsuit.
Brian’s client is a former employee of Circuit City, who filed a lawsuit in 2005 stating that the company’s arbitration agreement was invalid, and that because she was not provided with a copy of the arbitration rules, she unknowingly waived her right to sue. Brian argued his client’s case in the Maryland Court of Appeals, and the court ruled that the arbitration agreement was enforceable.
Brian was previously interviewed by Bloomberg BNA and Law360 for a similar case, Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, which asked whether an agreement that requires an employee to resolve employment-related disputes through individual arbitration, and waive class and collective proceedings, is enforceable under the Federal Arbitration Act, notwithstanding the provisions of the National Labor Relations Act, according to SCOTUSblog.
“The NLRB certainly got it correct,” Markovitz told Bloomberg BNA. “By definition, class action waivers prohibit employees acting together, known as ‘concerted activity,’ which is protected by the National Labor Relations Act. But, the Supreme Court is unlikely to rule that way. These waivers clear court dockets and help big businesses by insulating companies from class actions because employees cannot sue them collectively. Probably a 5-4 decision, hurting the little guy.”
Brian Markovitz is a principal in JGL’s Labor and Employment and Civil Litigation practice groups, and focuses on helping victims who have suffered severe injustices in the workplace. He represents individuals in complex employment litigation and appellate matters involving wrongful termination, retaliation by employers in response to reporting fraud or misconduct and discrimination on the basis on race, gender, age and sexual orientation. Brian takes on a wide variety of workplace controversies, and it is his goal to help each client in every way he can.