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NCL statement on Supreme Court arbitration decision in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion

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Release date: April 28, 2011

Contact: 202-835-3323,  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Washington, DC--The National Consumers League is greatly disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision yesterday in the case of AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion. Both consumers and workers are frequently subject to mandatory arbitration clauses in the fine print of contracts they are often required to sign in order to get a job or buy goods or services. These clauses are ubiquitous. Yesterday’s unfortunate 5-4 Supreme Court decision, which included a strong dissent by Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, Ginsburg and Kagan, will allow companies to drastically curtail the fundamental right of consumers or workers to bring a class action when there is evidence of fraud, discrimination or other illegal practices.

Now, whenever a consumer or worker signs a contract to get a cell phone, open a bank account or take a job, they may can be forced to give up the right to hold companies accountable for a wide variety of illegal conduct.

Class actions are an essential tool used to vindicate the rights of workers and consumers, hold corporations accountable and balance the scales of justice. Brown v. Board of Education was a class action.

The National Consumers League does not believe that that the Federal Arbitration Act of 1925 – a law that was intended to facilitate private arbitration between parties of equal bargaining power – was intended to serve as a shield against corporate accountability.

The National Consumers League will continue to oppose forced arbitration. Forced arbitration acts as a private system of justice – and too often injustice – and is largely controlled by corporate entities, whose goal is to block average citizens’ access to one of nation’s greatest democratic institutions: an impartial judicial system.

After yesterday’s very disappointing decision in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, we call upon those members of Congress who stand with consumers and workers to take up legislation ending forced arbitration in consumer and employment contracts.

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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.