Congressional Leaders Unveil House and Senate Bills to End Forced Arbitration

This week victim advocates from around the country joined Congressional leaders at a press conference to bring attention to the secretive, rigged system of forced arbitration that is hidden in the fine print of many everyday consumer contracts, employee handbooks, and even “click-through agreements.” As released in an AAJ press release, they unveiled the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal (FAIR) Act, introduced by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), that would restore the rights of consumers, workers, and patients to seek justice and accountability from the corporations that physically or financially hurt them.

A recent nationwide poll by Hart Research found broad bipartisan support of 84% of voters for a bill to end forced arbitration (87% of Republicans and 83% of Democrats). More poll results can be found here.

“Forced arbitration clauses buried in the fine print hurt everyone,” said Linda Lipsen, CEO of the American Association for Justice. “If corporations know they won’t ever be held publicly responsible, our civil rights, as well as our public health and safety are at risk, from the cars we drive, to the jobs we take, and the food we eat. That’s what makes this legislation so important, and I commend the advocates and Members of Congress who stood up today to demand action.”

The nonprofit organization Earthjustice applauded Senator Blumenthal, Representative Johnson, their colleagues, and all of the advocates fighting against the unfair and unethical practice of forced arbitration, and for their efforts to craft the FAIR Act. Forced arbitration is a “rigged secret proceeding that denies the cheated and ripped off the right to seek remedies before a judge and jury, and allows corporations to hide their misconduct from the public,” as the AAJ summarized. The association, along with groups like Public Citizen and others, has worked hard to publicize the damages to citizens that forced arbitration inflicts.

“We at Public Justice routinely hear from people who are unable to seek justice after a corporation broke the law and harmed them. Forced arbitration clauses bar them from having their claims heard in court,” said Paul Bland, executive director of Public Justice. “The energy in favor of the FAIR Act is like nothing I’ve seen before in this fight for corporate accountability and against perpetrators of gender and race discrimination. Its passage would make American life much safer, healthier, and fairer.”

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