Attorneys Taking Action - Class Action News
A win in the Seventh Circuit has the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and its supporters celebrating- and preparing for a potential Supreme Court case.
The NLRB has long held that arbitration agreements with class action waivers violate the rights of employees to practice protected collective action, a right established by the National Labor Relations act. They argue that arbitration agreements, which disallow employees to sue as a group, should be impermissible, or at the very least, unenforceable. So far, the courts have not agreed. The Second, Fifth, Eighth, and Ninth circuits have all refused to take any sort of action against arbitration agreements and class action waivers. But in May, the Seventh Circuit took a different stance in the case Lewis v. Epic Systems Corporation.
In the aforementioned case, Epic Systems Corporation emailed their employees, requesting them to agree to an arbitration agreement and stating that if employees “continue[d] to work [at Epic Systems]”, they were “deemed to have accepted this Agreement”. Jacob Lewis, an employee at Epic Systems, registered his acceptance of the arbitration agreement. But when he later entered into a dispute with Epic Systems, he decided to sue “[the company] in federal court, contending that it had violated the Fair Labor Standards Act.” Epic Systems responded by demanding that the lawsuit be settled in individual arbitration, which caused Jacob Lewis to contend Epic Systems’ arbitration agreement as a “violat[ion] of the NLRA. The Seventh Circuit agreed.
This marks the first time a circuit court has taken a stance against the enforceability of arbitration agreements and class action waiver. Many are wondering- with the circuit courts now taking differing stances on this issue- is the Supreme Court next?