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Businesses Use Forced Arbitration Loophole to Deny Day in Court

Imagine an alarming workplace environment where an employee was harassed, assaulted, but then dismissed by her employer and the circuit courts. That’s what happened to Tia who was sexually harassed for months by her employer at Circuit City. Her employment case against the company was thrown out of court and eventually it was dropped. (Read her full story.)

How could an injustice like this be allowed to exist in America where everyone has the right to take wrongdoers to court? It’s called forced arbitration, and you or a loved one may be next to lose your rights. Here are the facts about forced arbitration:

Forced Arbitration statistics

A Little Forced Arbitration History

The use of forced arbitration clauses is a relatively new tactic developed by a Wall Street-led coalition of credit card companies and retailers. Their goal, according to interviews with coalition members and court records, was simple: find a way to legally insulate businesses from lawsuits. Consumers and advocacy groups eventually cried foul and challenged the use of forced arbitration clauses and the ban on class-action lawsuits. But in 2011 and again in 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld forced arbitration. With the floodgates now open, the use of forced arbitration clauses exploded far beyond the financial services industry and is now found in everything from daycare and dog sitting services to cable television and funeral homes.

Recently, America Tonight uncovered the pervasive use of forced arbitration clauses in the fine print of just about every product, service or employment contract:

Look for Arbitration Clauses First

If you are looking to purchase a service or applying for new employment, we recommend reading the fine print. Learn how to identify arbitration clauses before you sign a contract or check the box next to “I agree to these terms and conditions.” You can then take your business elsewhere if possible. However, this option isn’t always practical if you NEED a service or new job.

Your other option is to support efforts by some lawmakers, government agencies and consumer advocacy groups to stem the tide of forced arbitration. We’ve outlined a few great options here.


In a Forced Arbitration Suit? Find a Lawyer.

If you ever find yourself in a situation with questions about how you are being treated – whether workplace or service agreement related – we advise seeking out legal representation. Furthermore, if you are about to step into a new contractual agreement and want legal review of the fine print, it’s never a bad idea to investigate before finding yourself stuck in a forced arbitration suit with your hands tied. Barrow Law Firm is here to help.

Did You Know – Citizens Newsletter

This article is an excerpt from our monthly newsletter, Let America Know. Read it in full or subscribe to receive information on citizens rights and advocacy as well as safety tips.

2 Responses

  1. Shannon Storm

    I am in this situation right now and desperately trying to find a loop hole or way around it. I want to file a class action suit against TracFone Wireless. They have double charged me on more than one occasion and still deactivated my phone also! I have found hundreds and thousands of customers online complaining about the same thing. I contacted lawyers and they found this arbitration clause on the company website. But it is not something I ever knew about. I never signed anything or clicked that I agree. So irritating!

    1. barrow_admin

      Hi, Shannon. Please send us a copy of the arbitration clause and the balance of the contract to which you agreed. If you have other folks who are being victimized by tracphone by overcharging, please provide the names and contact information of those folks as well as information as to the amounts of overcharges. This could be the genesis of litigation, but it’s uncertain until we gather additional information. You can email us at blf@