Employers are requiring with greater frequency that employees accept mandatory arbitration as a condition of employment. In difficult economic times, employees are less likely to reject a job conditioned upon accepting mandatory arbitration. Indeed, employees often agree to waive their rights to go to court over future employment disputes in exchange for at-will employment. Although arbitrations are not inherently inappropriate for resolving employment disputes, an employee's acceptance of mandatory arbitration is rarely, if ever, voluntary.
The United States Supreme Court recently ruled that a union could contract away a union member's rights to pursue a statutory discrimination claim in court. In 14 Penn Plaza L.L.C. v. Pyett, the Supreme Court considered whether a union member with an age discrimination claim under the Age Discrimination Employment Act ("ADEA") could be required to privately arbitrate the claim rather then pursue it in court. Surprisingly, a divided Supreme Court concluded that a union member could be mandated by a collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") to arbitrate a statutory discrimination claim.