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Supreme Court rules against labor unions

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of employers in resolving employee disputes. In a 5-4 decision that broke down as the conservative wing versus the liberal wing of the court, the court said that employers do have the right to insist that labor disputes should be handled individually with the employee rather than allowing workers to join together for class action lawsuits. According to USA Today, the Ruling affects an estimated 25 million workers who sign agreements to arbitrate as part of their employment contracts.

What the court said

This was one of the oldest cases before the bench -- the court first heard the case in October of 2017 and passed its ruling in May of 2018. Important comments from the justices included:

  • Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the decision, stating: “This court is not free to substitute its preferred economic policies for those chosen by the people’s representatives.”
  • Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the dissent, taking the unusual step of summarizing the dissenting opinion from the bench. In part she pointed out: “When workers charge their employers with unlawful conduct — in this case, violations of laws governing wages earned and hours worked — there is strength in numbers."

Federal Arbitration Act vs. National Labor Relations Act 

There were to seemingly conflicting laws involved in the debate. One is the Federal Arbitration Act of 1925 that made arbitration legal. The other was the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, which protected employees and allowed them to engage in collective bargaining. The court ruled in favor of the latter law 2012.

This is a blow to labor unions

A case with corporations on one side and labor unions on the other, the court has dealt a blow to the unions in passing down this decision. The labor side claims that this ruling could impact a wide range of issues faced by employees, including charges of sexual harassment in the workplace. The other side points out that this is a straightforward reading of how the law was drafted by congress.

Each case is different, but employment disputes can often be complicated affairs that end up in arbitration or in court. An attorney with experience in corporate and business law, litigation and arbitration can be an asset to those involved in employment law disputes.

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