Arbitration or bust?
June 18, 2009 9:18 AM Subscribe
The company I work for has announced the adoption of a "alternative dispute resolution" program. HQ is telling us that by continuing to work there after a certain date, I agree to be covered by this ADR and forfeit my right to take them to court. What are my options, beside quitting?
posted by anonymous to work & money (18 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I work for a large, well-known multi-national corporation. Recently, said company announced the adoption of an "alternative dispute resolution" program to address employee complaints and disputes.
By and large, this new program doesn't appear much different than the current process--except that if the dispute in question can't be resolved in the normal process, it goes to binding arbitration via an external mediator.
The training material is specific: "...by choosing to continue to work for the Company aftey July 1, 2009, you are agreeing to be covered by [the new alternative dispute resolution system] after July 1, 2009." It goes on to point out that all covered claims that advance to a certain point must go to arbitration, they cannot be brought to court and will not be heard by a jury, and no class or collective actions are permitted.
"Covered claims" are those claims that a court would have authority under applicable law to resolve, such as employment discrimination & harassment claims, tort claims such as defamation or privacy invasion, wage-hour claims, claims under employment contracts, and trade secret or unfair competition claims.
I've been more-or-less happily employed by this company for nearly two decades. I don't have any beef with my employer, though who knows what may happen between now and retirement? I want to keep my options open, and arbitration seems designed to make sure I don't have options.
Between the current economy and some family health issues, I'm extremely reluctant to leave my job right now. At the same time, being told I have to give up my constitutional right to a jury trial raises my red flags. In addition, from what I know about arbitration in consumer products, it's always heavily stacked against the consumer.
So here are my questions:
(1) What, if any, recourse do I have here? Should I go to our HR rep and express my concerns about this new dispute procedure? Can I just tell them, "Sorry, I do not agree to this"? (I suppose I should add that I am a full-time salaried employee; my department is non-union).
(2) Is arbitration in the workplace as bad as it is in the retail sales environment? I've seen articles in the CivilRights.org archives that lead me to believe this is the case, but if anyone else has experience or information that demonstrates otherwise I would appreciate hearing it. I'm trying to remain open-minded here and not let my emotions get in the way of any relevant data. Thanks in advance!