Monday, the US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to allow employers to block their employees from filing class action lawsuits.
While the ruling is a win for companies, legal experts say it’s a blow to workers who would now, have to take up such legal battles by themselves.
In a decision that could affect some 25-million non-unionized workers, the conservative majority ruling means employees can now be forced to use one-on-one arbitration instead of the courts to handle disputes over wages, conditions, and other grievances.
The Supreme Court was tasked with reconciling new deal labor laws, which vie for workers' rights to band together, and the Federal Arbitration Act which encourages the use of arbitration.
Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote that with respect to Epic Systems Corp v. Lewis, contracts with arbitration clauses are valid under the arbitration law saying, "as a matter of policy, these questions are surely debatable. But, as a matter of law, the answer is clear."
Jennifer Abruzzo, Special Counsel for Strategic Communications Workers of America, said that perhaps the biggest problem will be faced by employees who are part of the me too and time's up movements.
"They often, in arbitrations, are required to sign confidentiality clauses, so in essence, what you get is a situation where other victims don't know about how pervasive this is and there's no way to prove any sort of pattern. You know, harassers get away with this. There are Harvey Weinsteins that get away with being unchecked and unpunished."
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called the decision "egregiously wrong."