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Civil Rights Mockery: Mandatory Arbitration Strips Employees of Hard Won Rights

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  • Rhonda Hackett. PsyD. MBA
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      Article Title:
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      Civil Rights Mockery: Mandatory Arbitration Strips Employees of Hard Won Rights

      Article Description:
      ====================
      So, you thought the Civil Rights movement was over. The
      sixties are long behind us, and ever since then America
      has led the free world in upholding our most basic civil
      liberties and rights at all costs, right? Think again.


      Additional Article Information:
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      731 Words; formatted to 65 Characters per Line
      Distribution Date and Time: Thu Apr 7 21:33:36 EDT 2005

      Written By: Rhonda Hackett, PsyD, MBA
      Copyright: 2005
      Contact Email: mailto:rghackett@...

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      Civil Rights Mockery: Mandatory Arbitration Strips Employees of Hard Won Rights
      Copyright � 2005 Rhonda Hackett, PsyD, MBA




      So, you thought the Civil Rights movement was over. The
      sixties are long behind us, and ever since then America has led
      the free world in upholding our most basic civil liberties and
      rights at all costs, right? Think again. While we rest on our
      laurels and tout the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as
      proof of our nation�s insistence on fairness, equality, and as
      support for our self-proclaimed status as leader of the free
      world, employers all over the country blatantly thumb their
      noses at what can only be called our alleged civil rights.

      Like many of you, I operated on the basic assumption that
      if my civil rights were ever threatened I could have my day in
      court. Not so. If you happen to have an employer who insists
      on you signing a contract with a mandatory binding arbitration
      clause, you my friend, are up the proverbial creek without a
      paddle. Agreeing to arbitration � I did because I wanted the
      job, never presumed I�d experience a violation of my civil
      rights � simply means you waive your federal law given right
      to have that day in court. In essence, your civil rights have
      no meaning in the context of arbitration because you cannot
      go to court to protect them.

      You see, arbitration is a private forum that subjects you
      to a secret process that is not required to follow or uphold the
      letter of the law. Moreover, the secret system has absolutely no
      checks and balances in place. In our public system, judges are
      required to follow precedent and make their legal rulings on the
      record. Arbitrators, on the other hand, are not even required to
      be familiar with the law, much less know it, relevant to any case
      they are hearing; nor are they required to offer an explanation
      for their ruling. If you go to court and the judge or jury seems
      to have misinterpreted the law in your case, you can appeal the
      decision. If an arbitrator makes such an error, it does not
      matter. You are stuck with his or her mistake. Case closed.

      If you believe you are being discriminated against because
      of your gender, race, age, or a disability and your employer has
      you bound by the mandatory arbitration clause, forget seeking
      justice in the public court system that your tax dollars help
      pay for. In my case, my pocket book was $80,000 plus change
      thinner after arbitration fees and attorney fees incurred while
      I pursued my claim of gender discrimination. An exorbitant
      amount? Sure, but know that most such cases will set you back
      a cool $20,000-$50,000 at a minimum, depending on who you ask.
      Can America�s Everyman afford this system?

      Arbitrators and their supporters will argue that they are
      impartial in all cases they hear. Give me a break. They are paid
      by employers who are often repeat customers. An employer, who
      insists on including a binding arbitration clause, has more than
      one employee and obvious potential for continued business. As an
      individual bringing a case under the auspices of arbitration you
      only get one shot. No appeal or recourse remember? Who do you
      think the arbitrator will want to keep happy? And remember, he
      or she can engage in this seeming unethical behavior, because
      that is what this secret system allows.

      What�s in this for employers? A stacked system in their
      favor; getting rid of disgruntled employees in a quicker manner
      than the public court system would allow; freedom to push the
      limits of the law, if not conduct business on the outskirts;
      and comfort in knowing that only a small percentage of their
      employees will ever be able to afford this private and secret
      system of so-called justice.

      Attorneys, legal scholars, consumer advocates, employee
      advocates, the EEOC, every federal agency charged with enforcing
      labor and civil rights laws, government commissions, and believe
      it or not, the National Academy of Arbitrators and the Society
      of Professionals in Dispute Resolution, all slam the use of
      mandatory arbitration in discrimination cases. Despite this
      unwavering denouncement employers are increasingly turning to
      mandatory arbitration clauses and as a society we allow the
      travesty to continue. Resist such clauses and demand that your
      law makers put this issue on the front burner. Let�s not allow
      our civil rights to continue to be the joke mandatory arbitration
      has turned them into.



      ---------------------------------------------------------------------
      Rhonda Hackett, PsyD, MBA
      11940 W. Auburn Avenue
      Lakewood, CO 80228
      (303) 986-3571
      mailto:rghackett@...

      Dr. Rhonda Hackett is an advocate working to right social
      wrongs. She writes a regular column for the Denver Homeless
      Voice Newspaper and lives in the Denver Metro area.


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