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Thread: Arbitration Agreement?

  1. #1

    Default Arbitration Agreement?

    Recently found out at my job that a mandatory arbitration agreement is coming for all employees to sign whether you like it or not. From the start I didn't like the sound of "mandatory" and the description I was given about what it was didn't help me any either.

    From what I understand if I were to sign it, it would waive my right to pursue any disputes I have with the company in court, thus making it harder for me to get retributions if I were to ever get wrongly terminated or they do something wrong.

    Since I am not union and am working an at will contract with the company I am backed into a corner of having to sign it.

    My question here is, is there anything that I am missing about the agreement? Positives? So far I hear nothing but negatives things about it. Is it even constitutional to them to force me to sign something that gives up my rights?

  2. #2


    I would wait and see what the contract actually says. It's very difficult to hypothesize on what the waiver means to you, without knowing the exact contents of it.

  3. #3


    Quote Originally Posted by Talula View Post
    I would wait and see what the contract actually says. It's very difficult to hypothesize on what the waiver means to you, without knowing the exact contents of it.
    This is true, although I've seen fairly standard language like that in a lot of contracts. It refers disputes to binding arbitration rather than the civil courts. This is considered to be a far more expedient path of resolution. Court always favors the one with deep pockets as a practical matter (right or wrong, they can support a lengthy argument) so it's already an inherently unlevel playing field. Personally, I wouldn't worry about it too much in most cases.

  4. #4


    JURIST - Dateline

    Mandatory Arbitration Agreements: The Key To Avoiding Unconscionability

    all things considered and if your position permits, it may be an idea to feign stupidity when you sign, and to record your signing and the events leading up to it and after; you can do this with the voice recording function on your mobile phone. don't worry about 'you're not allowed to record this', you can if it's for a personal account/diary.
    so, make sure you set the precedent beforehand by getting into the habit of recording stuff. bear in mind that you possibly can't then wave about the fact that you have the recording(s), you can only use them as a personal reference (as an aide to memory, as it were); they won't be admissible as evidence unless a judge declares it, so you'll have to vague about their existence. it's also a good idea to transcribe the recordings.
    if you at least have a full knowledge of what was said, you'll be in a better position.

  5. #5


    I would agree with both Talula and Trevor. Wait until you receive the agreement, and don't sign it on the day. Go away and look it over, and allow yourself to have time to read it to judge its fairness for yourself.

    Arbitration is just an alternative method, which is cost effective for both parties (providing they are relatively amicable), to resolve issues resulting from wrongdoing by either side. In a sense, because both you and your employer are agreeing to do things cheaply, it is better for you being the one with less means!

    However, one must look for several important points when you are in receipt of this agreement. Ascertaining whether by agreeing to arbitration, you are also waiving your right to a court trial is the most important point. I personally would not be comfortable doing this, but our legal systems are quite different I think. Also, this should depend on how important it is to you that you keep your job. The less important it is to you, the bigger your hand is when negotiating. Similarly, the more important you are to them, the bigger your hand.

    Also, keep an eye on whether you have any say in the appointment of the arbitrator themselves. If your employer is insisting they appoint the arbitrator themselves without any say from you at all, I would regard this as highly dodgy. Equally, it should state in the agreement that you can elect to remove an arbitrator if they have a conflict of interest, such as the arbitrator being a prior business associate of your employer (this is terribly bad form!).

    In an ideal world, you should insist with your employer that it's your responsibility to find an arbitrator, that way ensuring fair game. Considering they're asking you to sign this agreement post employment, you have a small amount of leeway to barter with here I think. However, most employers are unreasonable. Especially American ones (we have slightly better employment laws this side of the pond).

    It is especially important to make sure that you are also not bearing all costs of employing this arbitrator. In fact, you bearing none of the costs would be the normality. Splitting arbitration costs 50/50 is pretty evil on the part of your employer. It is very unfair of them to expect you to cover, even 20% of the costs of hiring an arbitrator.

    All hope is not lost though. One thing you could use to compromise with if negotiations fail, is insisting on a strict set of rules that the arbitrator must follow during arbitration. Thereby at least providing you with some peace of mind. It would be best for you to use a well known institution, rather than creating these rules yourself. By using a well recognised body, if you employers deny you this, they look like absolute utter wankers - and it would be at this point I would start looking for another job. These rules that are set by big institutions have strict rules created to protect individuals like you and me. So, this is massively important.

    A quick Google provides a great example of a good institution: the American Arbitration Association.

    Don't use this post as a comprehensive guide, because I'm sure it isn't. I just have some dealings with this as I work within the legal sector. Above all read through anything before signing carefully. Don't feel pressured to sign it straight away. And, with stereotypical british flare, keep calm and carry on :3.

  6. #6


    Quote Originally Posted by Luca View Post
    we have slightly better employment laws this side of the pond.
    ya, but they're totally ignored

    my experience of newly issued contacts and waivers runs like, "here, sign this", says the bossman as he a shoves piece of paper in front of you whilst you're working.
    "what is it?"
    "oh, it's just paperwork."
    "what do you mean? what's it for?"
    "look, just sign and get on with your work. stop causing trouble."
    "well, i want to find out about it; i want to speak to someone about it before i sign it."
    "well, okay." he says, in a huff, "what do you want to talk about?"
    "no, i mean i want to talk to someone who knows about this stuff, whatever it is."
    "now you're just unreasonable and insulting. are you going to sign it or not?"
    "no, not without checking it out."
    "i think you're just causing trouble. okay, stop what you're doing and come with me."

    at least you get an early finish.

  7. #7


    This sounds more than a little fishy to me, but of course I can't comment on a document I haven't seen. In addition to Luca's very good points, a couple things to remember.

    1. Labor laws can vary significantly from one state to the next. You need to be aware of what your state permits. Just because they've put something in a document doesn't mean its legal or enforceable, even if you do sign it.

    2. Yes, of course you need to read any document before you sign it, and perhaps do some research on the things it has in it.

  8. #8


    Arbitration agreement are only valid if its between the employee and employer. and they many times become invalid where the employer commits a breach of state or federal law.
    IE if the employer violates the ADA act any arbitration agreement is not valid and you may use the courts.

    Your employer will tell you this is not true and his lawyers will try to stop you from using the courts but its up to a judge to rule on'

  9. #9


    A idea is Talk to your other fellow Employees. Talk about this mandatory arbitration agreement. Find out what they feel about it and then decide what to do with the other Employee. Maybe have everyone read it in detail before regrouping and then decide what to do next. Also find what your rights are before signing.

  10. #10


    I would also check your current employment contract as I'd question whether they are changing/breaking that by forcing a mandatory arbitration agreement.

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