In a move that looks like the beginning of a new and disturbing trend, the Supreme Court sided with employers over employees. The court’s ruling made today says that employers can prohibit employees from banding together to complain about pay, conditions, and likely many other things in the workplace. The move looks like a first blow in a battle by some employers to de-unionize some industries.
NBC News (@NBCNews) reports, the Supreme Court Justices ruled 5-4 on Monday, with the conservative court’s majority members in that businesses can force employees to individually use arbitration to resolve disputes. Meaning, multi-person class action lawsuits against companies will disappear. Giving big companies and their high-priced attorneys a clear advantage over one individual who can’t afford an attorney, instead of going up against hundreds of defendants who filed a joint lawsuit against a company. The outcome is an important victory for business interest.
An estimated 25 million employees work under contracts that prohibit collective action by employees who want to raise claims about some aspect of their employment. The Trump administration backed the businesses, reversing the position the Obama administration took in favor of employees.
Trump-appointed Justice Neil Gorusch, writing for the majority said, the contracts are valid under the arbitration law.
“As a matter of policy these questions are surely debatable. But as a matter of law the answer is clear.” Gorusch wrote.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called the decision “egregiously wrong.” Ginsburg said that individual complaints can be very small in dollar terms, “scarcely of a size warranting the expense of seeking redress alone.” Ginsburg said in a summary of the decision that she read aloud.