Many employers require workers to sign employment contracts in which they give up their right to sue in court over job-related issues, including unpaid wages, in favor of resolving the dispute in an alternative dispute resolution process known as arbitration. Under these provisions, the employee promises to pursue any legal claims against the employer through an arbitration hearing, rather than by means of a lawsuit.
When you’re starting a new job and don’t see any legal disputes on the horizon, you may not give any thought to an arbitration clause. But if your rights to proper compensation are later violated, that arbitration agreement might come back to haunt you. It could even mean the difference between winning and losing your case.
Courts will generally enforce arbitration agreements that are consistent with the law and which the employer has properly obtained from the employee. Sometimes, however, courts find an employer’s arbitration agreement to be unenforceable for various reasons, including:
• unfairness (based on the employer’s superior bargaining position)
• limitations regarding discovery and availability of information
• presence of a confidentiality provision
• use of cost-sharing provisions
• the degree to which the employer retains the right to modify the agreement
Don’t allow your employer to eliminate your right to enforce wage and hour laws in a court of law. If your employer is requiring you to sign an arbitration agreement, or if you have already signed an arbitration agreement and have concerns, contact the attorneys in Sommers Schwartz’s Wage & Hour Litigation Group to discuss your options and to learn how we can help.