Rep. Susan Davis Votes to Restore Consumer and Worker Rights

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Washington, September 20, 2019 | comments

Congresswoman Susan Davis (CA-53) voted to restore the rights of consumers and workers by prohibiting the enforcement of mandatory, pre-dispute arbitration (“forced arbitration”) provisions in contracts involving consumers, employment, antitrust, and civil rights disputes. The Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal (FAIR) Act restores access to the courts for millions of American consumers and employees who are currently locked out by forced arbitration.

“Forced arbitration is a rigged system that benefits companies and corporations at the expense of consumers, workers, and small businesses,” said Rep. Davis, a cosponsor of the FAIR Act. “The House voted to restore these rights and give millions of Americans the right to their day in court.”  

Most companies bury forced arbitration clauses deep in the fine print of take-it-or-leave-it consumer and employment contracts, which many consumers and employees don’t even notice.  For millions of consumers and employees, the pre-condition – whether or not they are aware – of obtaining a basic service or product, such as a bank account, a cell phone, a credit card, or even a job, is that they must agree to resolve any disputes in private arbitration.

According to a report from CNBC, “81 of the biggest 100 companies in America have put legal clauses in the fine print of their customer agreements that bar consumers from suing them in federal court and instead force victims to pursue a private dispute resolution method called arbitration, where they argue their case outside of the court system.” 

Often the forced arbitration clauses include provisions granting the corporation the ability to choose the arbitrator and also stipulating what arbitration rules apply – in effect, giving the corporation quite literally the role of the judge, the jury, and the law.  

The FAIR Act restores the private arbitration system to the original intent of the 1925 Federal Arbitration Act – providing it as a voluntary, alternative process for resolving disputes, primarily for those with relatively equal bargaining power. 

This bill is supported by a broad coalition of more than 70 public interest, labor, consumer, civil rights, and advocacy organizations, including Public Citizen, Consumer Reports, Earthjustice, Alliance for Justice, the American Association of Justice, the Communications Workers of America, the Leadership Conference of Civil Rights, the NAACP, and the American Antitrust Institute.

 
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