September 11, 2019

Congressman Neguse Helps Pass FAIR Act through the House Judiciary Committee

Washington, D.C.— Congressman Neguse has helped secure passage of the FAIR Act through the House Judiciary Committee, legislation that would end the use of forced arbitration in consumer, worker, civil rights, and antitrust disputes. The bill was approved by the Committee Tuesday night 22-14.

“At its core, this bill is about protecting consumers and workers alike, a goal that I have spent most of my career pursuing. From online users, to electric scooter riders, to victims of discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace, our nation’s consumers and workers are suffering from the exploitative nature of forced arbitration clauses,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “The FAIR Act is widely supported by Coloradans, and I am proud to help secure its passage through Committee.”

“Every day, workers and consumers are stripped of their ability to vindicate their rights in court through the fine print of contracts they’ve had no choice but to sign,” said David Seligman, Executive Director of Towards Justice and a Colorado Consumer Protection Coalition member. “This dire situation has gutted the right to a jury trial and undermined the effective enforcement of worker and consumer protections, allowing violators to gain an unfair advantage in the marketplace. I’m thrilled that Congress is taking action, and I’m eager to see this issue become a top priority for both parties.”

Forced arbitration clauses are often buried in the fine print of employment contracts and signed in haste by employees as a precondition for employment, without the benefit of legal counsel. These clauses are often used by businesses to limit scrutiny and accountability for unlawful conduct, eviscerating workers’ statutory and common law rights against abuse in the workplace. Many companies use forced arbitration as a tool to protect themselves from consumers and workers who seek to hold them accountable for alleged wrongdoing.  By burying a forced arbitration clause deep in the fine print of take-it-or-leave-it consumer and employment contracts, companies can evade the court system, where plaintiffs have far greater legal protections, and hide behind a one-sided process that is tilted in their favor.

H.R. 1423, the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act, or the FAIR Act, would restore access to justice for millions of Americans who are currently locked out of the court system and are forced to settle their disputes against companies in a private system of arbitration that often favors the company over the individual.