Wednesday, May 18, 2011

corporations often insert forced arbitration clauses, which essentially strip consumers and employees of the right to hold them accountable in court

Kevin,

Lurking in the fine print of contracts, corporations often insert forced arbitration clauses, which essentially strip consumers and employees of the right to hold them accountable in court.

Instead, consumers and employees who have been hurt or ripped off are forced into a private system that favors corporations.

http://action.citizen.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=4150

Tell your members of Congress to stop the corporate attack on our rights and end forced arbitration.

On top of that, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion that corporations can use forced arbitration clauses to also deny people the right to band together in class actions.

In practice, the ruling means if a company decides to illegally charge an extra $10 to its 10 million customers, there is virtually no way for the customers to hold the company accountable for this $100 million in illicit gains.

Instead of banding together, the corporation can use the fine print to require each consumer to file his or her claim individually — something few would do if only a small amount is at stake.

But there is a sliver of good news: This ruling can be fixed if Congress passes the Arbitration Fairness Act (S. 987, H.R. 1873).

Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) just introduced this bill.

Please help us to expand support for the Arbitration Fairness Act. Ask your members of Congress to become cosponsors.

Tell your Representative and Senators to support the Arbitration Fairness Act.

Arbitration clauses are often inserted in standard contracts for cell phones, credit cards, home construction, nursing home care and employment. People who need the job or service have no choice but to submit to the contract.

The Arbitration Fairness Act would eliminate forced arbitration clauses and allow consumers and employees to choose how to resolve disputes after they arise — whether in court or arbitration, individually or as a member of a class.

Thanks for all you do,

Rick Claypool
Public Citizen’s Online Action Team
action@citizen.org

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5 Comments:

Blogger Kevin Anthony Stoda said...

Cosponsor S. 987, the Arbitration Fairness Act

I am very concerned about the lack of accountability for companies who harm consumers and employees.

The Arbitration Fairness Act, introduced in the Senate by Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and in the House by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) would make mandatory binding arbitration unenforceable in civil rights, consumer and employment disputes, but would not eliminate voluntary arbitration agreed to after a disputes arise.

Forced arbitration undermines several important laws which were enacted to protect consumers and employees. We need companies to stop avoiding responsibility for their actions.

In April 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court made this bad situation worse. In AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, the Court ruled that corporations can now use arbitration agreements to deny people the right to band together in a class action.

Companies should not be able to inserted forced arbitration clauses in the fine print of contracts to shield them from accountability. The Arbitration Fairness Act would eliminate these clauses and allow consumers and employees to choose how to resolve disputes after the dispute it arises.

Thank you for listening to a constituent, and I look forward to your reply.

8:45 AM  
Blogger Kevin Anthony Stoda said...

Tell Congress:
Stop the Corporate Attack on Our Rights and End Forced Arbitration

In the fine print of contracts, corporations often insert a “forced arbitration” clause to strip consumers and employees of the right to hold them accountable in a court.

Instead, consumers and employees who have been hurt or ripped off are forced into a private system that favors corporations.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently made this bad situation worse. In AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, the court ruled that corporations can now use this fine print to deny people the right to band together for a class action lawsuit.

In practice, this means if a company decides to illegally charge an extra $10 to its 10 million customers, there is virtually no way for consumers to hold the company accountable for this theft of $100 million.

The good news is that this problem can be fixed with The Arbitration Fairness Act (S. 987 and H.R. 1873).

Stop the corporate attack on the people’s rights. Tell your members of Congress to support the Arbitration Fairness Act.

The Arbitration Fairness Act would eliminate forced arbitration clauses, and allow consumers and employees to choose how to resolve disputes after it arises — whether in court or arbitration, individually or as a member of a class.

Enter your zip code below. Then, please take a moment to add your own words to the email message that appears. This greatly increases the likelihood that your message will make a difference. We also urge you to follow up your message with a call. The number for the U.S. Capitol Switchboard is (202) 224-3121. Tell us about your call with an email to action@citizen.org.

Tell Your Representative to End Forced Arbitration

8:46 AM  
Blogger Kevin Anthony Stoda said...

The Problem

Most Americans don't know that they are bound by forced arbitration. Buried in the fine print of employment, cell phone, credit card, retirement account, home building, and nursing home contracts are mandatory arbitration clauses. Just by taking a job or buying a product or service, individuals are forced to give up their right to go to court if they are harmed by a company. Because the private system of forced arbitration benefits companies - and disadvantages consumers and employees - more and more industries are using forced arbitration to evade accountability.

In arbitration, there is no judge, jury or right to an appeal. The arbitrators do not have to follow the law, and there is no public review of decisions to ensure the arbitrator got it right. Moreover, contracts typically name the arbitration that must be used – the one preferred by the company.

Forced arbitration frequently costs more than taking a case to court, and can cost thousands of dollars. Individuals often have to pay a large fee simply to initiate the arbitration process. Then in order to arbitrate, individuals sometimes have to travel thousands of miles on their own dime. In the end, the loser (usually the individual) often pays the company’s legal fees.

Forced arbitration strips our most basic rights and makes many employee and consumer protections unenforceable. The laws that protect us from discrimination based on age, sex, religion, race, disability, and unequal pay for equal work, such as the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Pay Act, become meaningless and unenforceable in arbitration. Employees lose important protections for blowing the whistle on waste or fraud or for fighting retaliation for taking the family medical leave, for example.

Consumers cannot sue for negligence, defective products or scams. Even if a retirement account disappears, a home is dangerous and defective, or a loved one suffers harm in a nursing home, a forced arbitration clause means there is no right to take the company responsible to court.

People who have been harmed by discrimination, negligence, defective products or scams should not be forced into arbitration: they should have a choice.

Now that you understand the problem

8:47 AM  
Blogger Kevin Anthony Stoda said...

What Is Forced Arbitration?

Just by taking a job or buying a product or service, most Americans have given up their right to go to court if they are harmed by a company. Instead, people are forced into a private system of justice without a judge, jury, or an appeal. The arbitrators don't have to follow the law, and there is no public review of decisions or real accountability.
Read More
Who should worry about forced arbitration?

Anyone who has...

* a credit card
* a job
* a cell phone
* a relative in a nursing home
* a bank account
* plans to build a home
* a business franchise
* student loans
* cable or satellite service
* plans to buy a car
* a doctor

Legislative Activity

Arbitration Fairness Act
Our Coverage

House Bill: H.R. 1020
Status: Introduced
Consponsors: 64
Text of Legislation
CRS Summary

Senate Bill: S. 931
Status: Introduced
Consponsors: 7
Text of Legislation
CRS Summary



Consumer Fairness Act
Our Coverage

House Bill: H.R. 991
Status: Introduced
Consponsors: 0
Text of Legislation
CRS Summary



Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act
Our Coverage

House Bill: H.R. 1237
Status: Introduced
Consponsors: 17
Text of Legislation
CRS Summary

Senate Bill: S. 512
Status: Introduced
Consponsors: 3
Text of Legislation
CRS Summary



Older Arbitration Legislation (110th Congress)
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The Solution


The solution is banning forced arbitration. Congress must pass the Arbitration Fairness Act so that arbitration is always a choice. Consumers and employees must have a fair shot at getting justice when they are harmed by companies. It's time to put an end to the abusive practice of forced arbitration, and to bring more accountability to the business world.



1) Get the Facts. Learn why forced arbitration is so damaging to consumers and employees, and the legislation that will put a stop to it and restore a meaningful choice to consumers and employees.



2) Stay Informed. Sign up to find out how you can become more directly involved in our campaign.



3) Get People Talking. Tell your friends to join our campaign, write your local newspaper about forced arbitration, and sign our petition.

8:47 AM  
Blogger Kevin Anthony Stoda said...

Legislation

Arbitration Fairness Act
Our Coverage
House Bill: H.R. 1020
Status: Introduced
Consponsors: 64
Text of Legislation
CRS Summary
Senate Bill: S. 931
Status: Introduced
Consponsors: 7
Text of Legislation
CRS Summary

Consumer Fairness Act
Our Coverage
House Bill: H.R. 991
Status: Introduced
Consponsors: 0
Text of Legislation
CRS Summary

Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act
Our Coverage
House Bill: H.R. 1237
Status: Introduced
Consponsors: 17
Text of Legislation
CRS Summary
Senate Bill: S. 512
Status: Introduced
Consponsors: 3
Text of Legislation
CRS Summary

8:48 AM  

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