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How a Major SCOTUS Decision in Favor of Arbitration Is Shaping the Landscape for Workplace Lawsuits

National Law Journal [paywall – alternative – free acces via Yahoo and GitHub data and methodology for the research: “The case before U.S. District Judge Gerald McHugh Jr. was not unlike others he’d seen before. A woman alleged sexual harassment in the workplace so severe she had been forced to quit her job. Her former employer, a global talent agency called MarketSource, was arguing that the  whole dispute ought to be in front of an arbitrator—not in a public courtroom. McHugh, sitting in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, left no doubt about his misgivings, writing “there is legitimate cause for concern when a parallel system of dispute resolution supplants the courts.” But in the face of a growing constellation of U.S. Supreme Court decisions favoring arbitration contracts, the judge concluded in a decision last November that he had little choice but to side with the company.

  • In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s split decision in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, which further bolstered the Federal Arbitration Act, that outcome has been increasingly common for workers who try to take their employers to court. Claims of persistent sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace, fast-food workers shorted on pay and gig economy contractors fighting for employee status have all been routed to arbitration in decisions citing Epic. In less than a year, the ruling has proven to be a strong weapon for the pro-arbitration defense bar.
  • In collaboration with San Francisco-based legal research company Casetext, The National Law Journal analyzed 92 decisions from U.S. courts of appeal and federal district courts that cited Epic in the seven months between when it was handed down last May and the end of 2018. Among those cases, 10 circuit court and 49 district court decisions centered on arbitration and dealt with workplace claims—and the majority either compelled arbitration or revived it as a live issue…”

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