If you have suffered discrimination on the job, were wrongfully terminated, or are looking to fight for unpaid overtime or are looking to fight wage violations, one of the challenges that you might encounter when seeking damages from your employer is a contract known as an arbitration agreement. Employees may be asked to sign an arbitration agreement as a condition of employment. Many workers may not even be aware that they have signed this kind of agreement, because the language might be buried in your employment contract and offer. However, if you signed an arbitration agreement, you may have waived your right to sue your employer in court. Instead, individuals who have signed arbitration agreements will be required to settle their disputes using a process known as arbitration. Unlike a lawsuit, arbitration is a private process. This prevents your employer from facing bad press as a result of a lawsuit, and may also leave the employee in a disadvantaged position. Why? Arbitration cases may be heard by private judges and prevent the employee from seeking a jury trial. Juries might be more inclined to favor the side of a worker whose rights have been violated. Another disadvantage with arbitration is that there will be no incentive for your employer to settle the matter privately, because arbitration is already a private matter. These are just a few of the downsides to arbitration. If you need to pursue a lawsuit against an employer due to unpaid overtime, due to discrimination, due to sexual harassment, or due to a wage violation, navigating an arbitration agreement can get complicated, as can building the best possible case when an arbitration agreement is in place. Moore & Associates are employment lawyers in Houston, Texas who may be able to assist you with navigating some of the challenges that can arise when employees have signed arbitration agreements. We can review your agreement, help you understand your rights, and assist you with the next steps.
What are the Disadvantages of Arbitration?
There are several disadvantages to arbitration agreements. One of the biggest difference between a case heard by an arbiter and a case that is brought to court is that individuals won’t be able to have a jury hear their case. Arbitration brings the case before a person who has been hired to serve as a neutral party to hear the case and often this person will have been hired by the company that you are suing. Juries can sometimes tend to rule in favor of employees, particularly those who have lost wages due to unpaid overtime or wage violations. While arbiters are required to be neutral, losing a jury can be a serious disadvantage.
Another issue with an arbitration agreement is that you, as the employee, may not be able to make certain requests for documents before the case. During a civil trial, the discovery process allows both parties to obtain information. However, in an arbitration case, the discovery process may not take place.
Another issue with arbitration is that if you lose, you cannot appeal the case. The decisions made in arbitration are final. So, it is important to build the strongest possible case before going into arbitration. Moore & Associates are employment attorneys in Houston, Texas who can assist you with this process and who can work closely with you to build the strongest possible case.
Another issue with arbitration that has recently come to light is the fact that arbitration is private and therefore may protect companies where there is a pervasive culture of sexual harassment, discrimination, wage violations, or wrongdoing. Because the outcomes of arbitration cases are not made public, and because sometimes individuals might be required to sign gag orders when accepting a settlement, sometimes companies are able to hide issues that they might have regarding sexual harassment. Furthermore, because arbitration is private, companies also don’t have the incentive to settle with wronged workers in exchange for a private settlement. Many companies have recently come under fire for having forced arbitration clauses in their employment contracts and some major companies have even taken steps to eliminate these contracts from their employee contracts. However, not all companies have done so. Women who have suffered sexual harassment on the job have recently been speaking out about feeling silenced as a result of arbitration agreements.
If you are facing arbitration when fighting a sexual harassment claim or wage violation claim, Moore & Associates may be able to assist you. Contact our employment lawyers in Houston, Texas today to learn more. We can fight for your rights and help you navigate the unique challenges that arbitration raises.
Are There Advantages to Arbitration?
The advantages to arbitration are typically skewed in favor of the employer. However, because arbitration takes place in private and because a jury doesn’t need to be selected, the process can often move faster than a court case. If your case is very strong, this can sometimes be good news because it means that you might receive your settlement sooner than had you gone to court. However, it is very important to establish the strength of your case. Moore & Associates can help you navigate all aspects of the arbitration process to help you get the best possible resolution permitted under the law.
Should I Sign an Arbitration Clause When Accepting a Job?
Unfortunately, if your employer requires you to sign an arbitration agreement when accepting a job, you could lose the job offer if you don’t sign it. However, if you are uncomfortable about signing an arbitration agreement, you may want to speak to your employer about this before signing the contract. If an employer really wants to hire you, you may be able to negotiate for a better contract. Before signing your contract for employment, it can be helpful to understand what you are signing. Contact Moore & Associates, employment lawyers in Houston, Texas today to learn more and to protect your rights. Our firm can read over the contract and may be able to help you understand your options when it comes to negotiating for a better deal.