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

UPDATED: Feb 11, 2012

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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