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Reps. Nadler & Scott, Senator Murray Reintroduce Bicameral Bill to End Forced Arbitration in the Workplace, Allow Workers to Band Together to Enforce Their Legal Rights

The Restoring Justice for Workers Act would ensure all workers can access legal resources to protect their rights as employees. Forced arbitration covers more than 60 million workers in the non-union private sector, including 59.1% of Black workers and 57.6% of women workers.

Today, U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-12), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member and former Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and U.S. Representative Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA-03), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, reintroduced their bicameral Restoring Justice for Workers Act, legislation to end forced arbitration clauses and protect workers’ ability to pursue work-related claims in court. Nadler, Murray and Scott first introduced the bill in 2019.

The bill would override the 2018 Supreme Court decision, Epic Systems v. Lewis, which allowed employers to continue to enforce arbitration clauses against workers. These arbitration clauses prevent workers from banding together to enforce their legal rights and are often buried in the fine print of employment contracts, meaning many workers are not aware they’ve waived their rights. The use of forced arbitration clauses that block workers’ access to the courts has led to widespread non-enforcement of workers’ rights, including their right to minimum wage, overtime, and to a workplace free of discrimination.

“I am pleased to continue working with Ranking Member Scott and Senator Murray to ban forced arbitration in employment contracts,” said Rep. Nadler. “Forced arbitration strips working Americans of their opportunity to hold employers accountable for wage theft, discrimination, harassment and many other forms of misconduct. I am proud to re-introduce the Restoring Justice for Workers Act to put an end to this exploitation of American workers and to ensure they have equal protection under the law. Victims of corporate abuse and misconduct deserve their day in court. As the Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, I’ll keep fighting until we have fully restored these rights by passing this legislation to end forced arbitration.”

“Forcing workers into signing away their rights, sometimes unknowingly, is just plain wrong—but it is still all too common and it is far past time we put an end to this practice,” said Senator Murray. “Forced arbitration leaves many workers without the legal recourse they need to fight back against discrimination in the workplace or unfair pay. I’m proud to once again be introducing this bill to protect the rights of every worker.”

“Workers should not be coerced into signing away their rights as a condition of their employment. Unfortunately, that is the reality for millions of workers across the country. Employers are increasingly using mandatory arbitration agreements to deny employees a fair venue to seek recourse for wage theft, discrimination, or harassment. The Supreme Court’s decision in Epic Systems v. Lewis went further by undermining workers’ rights to file joint, class, or collective legal actions. The Restoring Justice for Workers Act would help restore employees’ fundamental rights to have their day in court and join with their co-workers to hold employers accountable for unlawful conduct,” said Rep. Scott.

“This legislation will set the record straight – workers have a Seventh Amendment Constitutional right to join their colleagues and pursue justice when corporations treat their employees unlawfully,” said American Association for Justice CEO Linda Lipsen. “We thank Senator Patty Murray, Rep. Bobby Scott, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler for introducing this legislation to restore the legal rights of thousands of American workers.”

“Workers have the right to come together for better pay and working conditions, and should be able to have those claims heard in court. Right now, too many companies force workers to give up the right to collectively challenge workplace-wide lawbreaking by imposing forced arbitration clauses as a condition of getting a job. With these waivers, individual employees are forced into private, secret arbitration, and can only pursue their individual claim,” said Catherine Ruckelshaus, General Counsel, National Employment Law Project. “Banning workers from acting collectively and closing the door to public judicial review of job conditions exacerbates workplace-wide violations like wage theft and discriminatory hiring while further eroding corporate accountability. Forced arbitration already covers more than 60 million workers in the non-union private sector, including 59.1% of Black workers and 57.6% of women workers. Congress must immediately pass the Restoring Justice for Workers Act to restore workers’ access to justice and hold lawbreaking corporations accountable.”

“MM&P salutes Senator Murray and the ‘Restoring Justice for Workers Act.’ The erosion and non-enforcement of our federal labor laws and the resulting degradation of our working conditions and standard of living must be reversed. This legislation is an excellent first step,” said Masters, Mates & Pilots Union President Captain Don Marcus.

"Binding arbitration clauses are one of the most pernicious tools employers use to control workers, forcing them to sign away the right to a day in court when their rights on the job are violated. While forced arbitration in cases of sexual harassment was finally banned in 2022, workers can still be forced to sign these agreements to arbitrate wage theft, unsafe working conditions, racial discrimination, and more in a secretive, biased process that is tilted towards the boss. This bill would go a long way towards empowering workers - even those who don't have the protection of a union - to have full access to the courts and the opportunity to hold their employers accountable for breaking the law," said Samantha Sanders, Director of Government Affairs and Advocacy at the Economic Policy Institute.

“I applaud the introduction of the Restoring Justice for Workers Act in this Congress. DPE and its Arts, Entertainment, and Media Industry unions are proud to include this important legislation in our DEI Policy Agenda for the 118th Congress. Ensuring that everyone can enforce their workplace rights is necessary for all creative professionals to be able to pursue middle class careers. I commend Senator Murray, Representatives Scott and Nadler, and the bill’s co-sponsors for acting to ensure that professionals are not forced into individual arbitration agreements that often tilt in the employers’ favor,” said Jennifer Dorning, President, Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO (DPE).

The Restoring Justice for Workers Act would:

  • Open the courthouse doors for workers by prohibiting the use of forced arbitration clauses in employment contracts and prohibiting employers from requiring employees to waive their right to engage in joint, class, or collective legal action;
  • Reverse the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Epic Systems, which dismantled workers’ right to band together to hold unscrupulous employers accountable;
  • Uphold the rule of law, a cornerstone of our democracy, by ensuring that workers’ rights are enforceable through our justice system;
  • Ensure that post dispute arbitration agreements are not obtained by threat or coercion, that the agreement is understandable, and that the employee affirmatively consents to the agreement in writing and is fully aware of their rights in the workplace.

The bill is cosponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

This bill is endorsed by the Alliance for Retired Americans, American Association for Justice, Department for Professional Employees, Economic Policy Institute, International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots, National Employment Law Project, and the Seafarers International Union.

Full bill text is available here.



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