On May 21, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a pro-employer ruling class-action in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis. With a 5-4 vote, SCOTUS upheld an employer’s right to require workers to arbitrate disputes individually, surrendering their right to class or collective action. This is a case of employers who prefer to handle disputes through arbitration against employees who favor united action towards a resolution.
In its culmination, three different cases set the stage for the Supreme Court ruling. The first case rules that arbitration agreements violated employees’ National Labor Relations Act right to engage in concerted action for mutual aid. In the second case, employers argued that the Federal Arbitration Act provides valid, irrevocable, and enforceable agreements. With this circuit split, it forced the court to interpret two federal statutes—the Federal Arbitration Act and the National Labor Relations Act— in this case.
The Supreme Court also ruled that workplace employment agreements that ban class actions do not violate federal labor laws. The Court stated, “the law is clear: Congress has instructed that arbitration agreements must be enforced as written.” For employers, this can save companies money and time from resolving collective battles. However, this makes it harder for employees to address workplace complaints in class action lawsuits in the future.