U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg clearly rues the final vote tally in a recent high-court ruling concerning workers’ collective actions in disputes featuring signed arbitration agreements.
Legions of employers across the country don’t sympathize a whit with Ginsburg’s lamenting of a close 5-4 SCOTUS ruling issued earlier this week.
Indeed, major business organizations are clearly heartened by the decision authored and endorsed by the court’s conservative wing. It puts a stamp of approval on the ability of contracts that companies execute with many millions of employees to compel the latter to submit to forced arbitration when bringing a work-related dispute.
Several cases with similar fact patterns were heard by the court last year, with the tribunal’s ruling from this Monday addressing the issue that aggrieved workers and advocacy groups were hoping would be resolved differently.
As a recent national report on the case notes, arbitration-only agreements gained legal force nearly a century ago, back in 1925. Federal statutory law sanctioned unions and collective bargaining powers for workers a few years after that. The case before SCOTUS essentially asked the justices to determine whether the protections extended to workers supplanted the earlier right granted employers to compel an arbitration-only solution to individual workers that barred class action activity.
The court majority found no conflict between the laws, upholding the right of company principals to insist that workers individually resolve their disputes via arbitration.
Ginsburg and like-minded thinkers disdain such agreements. Ginsburg’s dissent noted that “there is strength in numbers” and that sanctioning forced individual arbitration would lead to a lag in enforcement of statutes intending “to advance the well-being of workers.”