On May 21, 2018, in a 5-4 decision and a major win for employers, the United States Supreme Court upheld the legality of waivers in employment contracts that prohibit employees from grouping claims together in collective or class actions in favor of individual arbitration proceedings. See Epic Sys. Corp. v. Lewis, ___U.S.___ (2018).
Employers have used these collective/class action waivers to protect against collective action wage and hour claims. Employees and the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) had challenged the legality of such provisions, arguing that they violate the National Labor Relations Act (the “NLRA”) prohibition against employers interfering with employees’ rights to engage in “concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.” See 29 U.S.C. § 157. Employers’ argued, under the Federal Arbitration Act (the “FAA”), that arbitration agreements entered into through a lawful contract must be upheld. 9 U.S.C. § 2. The United States Supreme Court resolved the conflict in favor of the FAA and employers.
Employers are encouraged to consult with their legal counsel to determine whether collective/class action waivers may be beneficial to their business or review waivers already in place to determine whether such waivers fit squarely in the United States Supreme Court’s recent decision. BMD’s employment attorneys are available for such consultation. Should you have any questions regarding the United States Supreme Court’s decision or class/collective action waivers, please contact Adam D. Fuller at firstname.lastname@example.org.