Lawmakers ask Supreme Court to weigh veterans' rights under arbitration
- Lawmakers asked the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether a civilian boss can force a military reservists’ unfair firing claim to be settled by arbitration, Bloomberg reports. Led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), 19 senators and House representatives are asking the high court to overturn an appeals court ruling that rejected a reservist's claim.
- A navy reservist sued his employer for firing him before his year-long deployment to Afghanistan, says Bloomberg. The company said it terminated him for subpar performance on a federal contract assignment, and not for his deployment. A claim was filed under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USEERA), which prohibits employers from terminating service personnel for going out on their tour of duty.
- Employers' rights are pitted up against workers' rights in the dispute. The bipartisan group of lawmakers hope conservative-leaning justices won't "tip the scales" towards arbitration agreements.
Conflicting decisions on arbitration agreements during the past 12 months present a challenge to employers. A year ago, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit struck down mandatory arbitration agreements, which many observers chalked up as a victory for workers.
At the state level, the California Supreme Court raised limits on arbitration agreements earlier this month. Under the Obama administration, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) opposed global startup WeWork over an arbitration agreement in June 2016. In the latter case, an employee claimed she was fired after refusing to sign an agreement, alleging labor violations.
If the Supreme Court accepts the lawmakers' request, it could finally end what has become a pain point for employment in several industries. Meanwhile, employers should review their own arbitrary agreements to make sure they're not at risk of violating workers' rights.