The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT)

Supreme Court 5-4 ruling sides with businesses

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The Supreme Court says employers can prohibit their workers from banding together to dispute their pay and conditions in the workplace, an important victory for business interests.

The justices ruled 5-4 Monday, with the court’s conservati­ve members in the majority, that businesses can force employees to individual­ly use arbitratio­n, not the courts, to resolve disputes.

The outcome does not affect people represente­d by labor unions, but an estimated 25 million employees work under contracts that prohibit collective action by employees who want to raise claims about some aspect of their employment.

The result could prompt a new round of lawsuits aimed at limiting class or collective action to raise allegation­s of racial discrimina­tion.

The Trump administra­tion backed the businesses, reversing the position the Obama administra­tion took in favor of employees.

The court’s task was to reconcile federal laws that seemed to point in different directions. On the one hand, New Deal labor laws explicitly gave workers the right to band together. On the other, the older Federal Arbitratio­n Act encourages the use of arbitratio­n, instead of the courts.

Justice Neil Gorsuch, writing for the majority, said the contracts are valid under the arbitratio­n law. “As a matter of policy these questions are surely debatable. But as a matter of law the answer is clear,” Gorsuch wrote.

In dissent for the court’s liberals, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called the decision “egregiousl­y wrong” and likely to lead to “huge underenfor­cement of federal and state stautes designed to advance the wellbeing of vulnerable workers.” Ginsburg said that the individual complaints can be very small in dollar terms, “scarcely of a size warranting the expense of seeking redress alone.” Ginsburg read a summary of her dissent aloud.

The National Labor Relations Board, breaking with the administra­tion, argued that contracts requiring employees to waive their right to collective action conflict with the labor laws. Business interests were united in favor of the contracts.

 ?? J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press ?? The Supreme Court on Monday ruled employers can prohibit their workers from banding together to complain about pay and conditions in the workplace.
J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press The Supreme Court on Monday ruled employers can prohibit their workers from banding together to complain about pay and conditions in the workplace.

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