National Consumers League

Statement of the National Consumers League supporting legislation to crack down on forced arbitration


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March 6, 2017

Pro-consumer Senators and House Reps to introduce multiple consumer bills Tuesday 

Contact: NCL Communications, Cindy Hoang, cindyh@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League is in full support of pro-consumer and worker legislation to ban mandatory forced arbitration.       

Top Senate and House Democrats will hold a press conference March 7 to introduce legislation to stop the use of unfair forced arbitration clauses, which are widely used by corporations to limit consumers’ and employees’ access to justice. NCL believes that these clauses give a green light to companies to commit illegal activities knowing they won’t be held accountable in a court of law.

Two prime examples are Wells Fargo Bank, which forced its customers to sign arbitration agreements only to open millions of fake accounts in the customers’ names and then shield themselves from liability through forced arbitration. Sterling Jewelers, the subject of a lengthy Washington Post story last week and a class action law suit, from the CEO on down, is alleged to have subjected thousands of women employees to unwanted sexual advances as a condition of employment and promotion, and created a hostile environment. All employees were forced to sign a mandatory arbitration agreement and cannot go to court to vindicate their claims. Sterling has thus shielded its outrageous corporate practices being heard in court. 

At tomorrow’s press conference, lawmakers will be joined by individuals who have been personally harmed by forced arbitration, including former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson. 

From nursing home contracts and employment agreements to credit card and cell phone contracts, Corporate America uses forced arbitration clauses to restrict Americans’ access to justice by stripping consumers and workers of their right to go to court. Instead, consumers and workers are forced into an arbitration system where corporations can write the rules; everything can be done in secret, without public rulings; discovery can be limited, making it hard for consumers to get the evidence they need to prove their case; and there’s no meaningful judicial review, so consumers and employees are often unable to appeal a decision even if the arbitrator gets it wrong. 

Senate and House Democrats will reintroduce and discuss legislation aimed at limiting forced arbitration in a wide variety contexts. The League applauds Senator Al Franken (D-MN), Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA), Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI), and Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) for their leadership on these issues. 

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About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.