Employees of UnitedHealth Group, Inc. tried to file a wage and hour class action against the employer but were forced to, instead, arbitrate their claims individually pursuant to the arbitration agreement they signed at the time they were hired. After losing their plea to file a class action, the employees sought – and received – help from the National Labor Relations Board.
According to the NLRB Administrative Law Judge who heard the case, “I am going to conclude that by maintaining its arbitration policy and by enforcing arbitration agreements through court proceedings, UnitedHealth has interfered with the rights of employees to engage in collective actions for their mutual aid and protection.”
While this ruling is not shocking considering that the Board steadfastly rejects all arbitration agreements prohibiting class actions despite federal court law to the contrary, the Judge’s opinion went to a shocking new level. He recommended (in addition to the rescission of the arbitration agreements) that UnitedHealth reimburse the employees for their legal costs in fighting the company’s motions to dismiss or compel arbitration in federal court.