The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) just issued a unanimous decision invalidating an employer’s mandatory arbitration agreement.
This decision, from what is a Republican controlled board, comes as a surprise to many observers.
As reported in HR Today:
The June 18 Prime Healthcare decision analyzed the employer’s arbitration agreement using the relatively new Boeing Co. standard for evaluating facially neutral policies and rules that potentially interfere with employees’ protected rights, but fell on the side of the workers. The decision may require employers to adjust their arbitration agreements to ensure (they) stay on the right side of the law.
For those unfamiliar with arbitration agreements, they’re a common employment contract clause that prevents employee vs. employer conflicts from going to court – requiring any conflict be solved through arbitration.
In making their decision, the NLRB made it clear that nothing in the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision which approved class and collective action waivers in mandatory arbitration agreements supersedes the rights of workers established in the National Labor Relations Act. That Act gave workers the right to file complaints with the NLRB.
According to the June 18 decision, any effort to overtly restrict an employee’s right to file such a complaint must be found unlawful. In the Prime Healthcare decision, NLRB found that Prime’s mandatory arbitration clause potentially interfered with their employees’ rights because it effectively covered all claims and failed to exclude NLRA claims.
Given this decision, employers should immediately review any arbitration agreements in use to see whether those agreements contain language that could be construed as too broad – precluding employees from filing complaints with the NLRB. The general disclaimer language in those agreements should also be reviewed.
If you’re an employer and have questions about labor and employment law, including mandatory arbitration agreements, consider calling on the attorneys at Kainen, Escalera & McHale in Connecticut. We do one thing and one thing only – we are an employer defense law firm – in fact, we are one of the largest employer defense law firms in the region. What’s more, each of our attorneys has over 20 years of experience in employment law and labor law matters and can provide your business with comprehensive legal counsel ranging from assistance with necessary preventive measures to trial advocacy. Please contact us if we can help you.
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