A group of democratic lawmakers today announced a bill to end the practice of forced arbitration, an issue that was recently pressed by Google employee organizers, who appeared alongside lawmakers during the announcement.
Mandatory arbitration clauses, frequently inserted into contracts, require employees and others to waive their right to sue. Instead, complaints are funneled through a private system. The practice, critics of the widespread system say, gives employers the upper hand in disputes.
Calling the practice “fundamentally unfair and un-American,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act, or FAIR Act, was about “guaranteeing every individual their day in court.” The bill, which has been introduced previously, was re-introduced in the House of Representatives.
Last week, after protests from workers, Google announced that it would end forced arbitration for all disputes, a decision expanding on a previous announcement that it would halt the practice in cases of sexual harassment and assault. Organizers said at the time that, after the victory, they would be meeting with lawmakers to discuss legislation on the issue.
The bill announced today does not apply specifically to any one industry, but Google workers appeared alongside the lawmakers as part of the announcement, along with others affected by forced arbitration. Tanuja Gupta, a Google worker who has organized employee protests, said at the conference that the “the time has come to end forced arbitration,” and noted that some tech companies had “slowly” relented on forced arbitration policies.
“We come here today not as employees at the same company, or as even colleagues in tech, but as six of the 60 million workers in America that are denied access to justice,” she said.