Back in January, at the dawn of the year, we gazed into our not-quite-crystal ball and took a look at some pieces of pending legislation that could help consumers this year. Now, in July, we’re at the halfway point of the year, and so it’s a good time to take a look at those bills and see how the wheels of government have turned in 2014.
The perils of forced arbitration and the need for the Arbitration Fairness Act were recently featured on an NPR piece. The story discusses the case of Jamie Leigh Jones, the former Halliburton employee who was gang raped in Iraq by her coworkers, then was sent to arbitration when she tried to sue her employer.
The House Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law is currently holding a hearing on forced arbitration and credit cards, appropriately titled “Federal Arbitration Act: Is the Credit Card Industry Using It To Quash Legal Claims?” Our friends at Public Citizen will be testifying. You can view (or at least listen to) the Real Player stream here.
Meet Michelle. We met Michelle at Arbitration Fairness Day and she told us about being forced into arbitration when she tried to get her poorly constructed home repaired. Now she’d like to share her story with you.
Mandatory binding arbitration, which corporations use to dodge accountability for their discrimination, negligence, or harassment, is a caricature of justice that offers no protection to consumers or employees. It’s also terrible for small business owners, as one couple found out.
BusinessWeek has published a pretty substantial cover story on arbitration, and why it disadvantages consumers. Consumerist readers will be familiar with many of the story’s criticisms: one study finds 99.8% of arbitration cases are decided in the corporation’s favor, some arbitration firms market themselves to companies as a sympathetic and partial judge, the arbitration process is intentionally structured to handicap consumers, and more.
According to science, even the President is more popular than mandatory binding arbitration. A recent poll shows that Americans hate everything about the extrajudicial resolution system, from its inescapable omnipresence, to its unappealable decisions that rob consumers of their day in court. The poll provides a refreshing contrast to a different study commissioned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which found that Americans love mandatory binding arbitration more than pie.
Arbitration is even worse than we thought. We already knew that consumers lost 94% of the extra-judicial proceedings, but new data shows that the few who manage prevail are likely to have their wins overturned on appeal.
The 8-1 decision came in a lawsuit by Alex E. Ferrer, a former Florida Circuit Court judge who decides minor civil disputes as a form of TV entertainment.
Join us at 9:30 as we liveblog the Arbitration Fairness Act’s second hearing before Congress. Arbitration is an extrajudicial jury-free way to resolve disputes where decisions are handed down by arbitrators who rule against consumers in 98.4% of cases. The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution will be considering S. 1782, an Act to banish mandatory binding arbitration from consumer disputes.
A glimmer of hope has opened up for consumers concerned about entire industries systemic and wholesale stripping of their right to resolve disputes by trial rather than by arbitration firms whose fancypants are bought and paid for by the corporations they’re umpiring. This ray is The Arbitration Fairness Act, and as introduced in the Senate by Feingold, Russell D. [WI], the part the bill that applies to you says:
No predispute arbitration agreement shall be valid or enforceable if it requires arbitration of…a consumer dispute.