The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) will soon rule on whether employees can waive their right to join class-action lawsuits. Unions (and the pro-union NLRB) have argued for the past few years that these waivers violate an employee’s right to “collective action” against employers. Employers, on the other hand, argue that all disputes should be settled individually, by way of binding arbitration, which is quicker and less expensive.
The Obama-appointed NLRB has steadfastly invalided these waivers. On appeal, some courts have overturned the NLRB’s decision and some upheld them. When courts of appeal are split on an issue, like here, SCOTUS gets involved to definitely rule which court is correct. SCOTUS is composed of five pro-business conservatives (Thomas, Roberts, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kennedy), two pro-union liberals (Kagan and Sotomayor), and two middle-of-the road liberals (Ginsburg and Breyer). That adds up to a win for Companies.
Having SCOTUS rule on whether waiving the right to join class actions will likely be a welcomed relief for companies in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee as the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently sided with the NLRB and invalidated class and collective waivers.
Matt Austin owns Austin Legal, LLC, a boutique law firm based in Ohio that limits its representation to employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. You can call Matt at (614) 285-5342 or email him at Matt@MattAustinLaborLaw.com.