Can an employer force an employee to enter into a binding arbitration agreement as a condition of employment?

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Can an employer force an employee to enter into a binding arbitration agreement as a condition of employment?

An employer had forced it’s at-will employees to sign a binding arbitration agreement to settle employment disputes as a condition of employment. Doesn’t this waive Constitutional rights set out in Article III to a trial by jury?

Asked on February 11, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Kansas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Actually, courts--including the U.S. Supreme Court--have consistently found that arbitration clauses are enforceable and, indeed, are even preferable, inasmuch as they result in less expensive and time-consuming resolution of disputes. The right to a trial by jury refers to criminal cases, not civil; even without arbitration clauses, many civil matters (e.g. small claims; landlord tenant) are resolved by a judge without a jury.

There are certain specific claims for which I believe an employee cannot give up his/her right to  trial; for example, I do not believe that an employee can give up the right to go to court over a claim that he or she was improperly denied overtime. However, those are the exception, not the rule.

So as a general matter, yes--the employer may, and many do, require entering into a binding arbitration agreement as a condition of employment.


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