Now companies can require employees to accept individual arbitration.
On May 21, the Supreme Court in a 5-4 ruling decided that companies can require employees to accept individual arbitration—in other words, they have the right to ban workers from joining together as a collective when bringing complaints.
WBFO, Buffalo’s NPR News Station, reported that the decision marks a setback for organized unions who aim to represent the workforce as one body, giving employees “strength in numbers.”
USA Today reported that the ruling will impact about 25 million workers who sign arbitration agreements without knowing, only to learn later collective action is prohibited.
Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the majority decision, joined by the other four conservatives on the court. “As a matter of policy, these questions are surely debatable,” Gorsuch said. He added, “this court is not free to substitute its preferred economic policies for those chosen by the people’s representatives.”
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the dissent, joined by the other three liberals, and summarized it from the bench, which USA Today noted justices do only rarely in order to show their objections. “When workers charge their employers with unlawful conduct — in this case, violations of laws governing wages earned and hours worked — there is strength in numbers,” Ginsburg said.
As a result of the ruling, she said, “there will be huge under-enforcement of federal and state statutes designed to advance the well-being of vulnerable workers.”