In the first of a series of pieces subtitled “Beware the Fine Print,” the New York Times has published an article investigating the rampant practice of forced arbitration, “a far-reaching power play orchestrated by American corporations” to restrict the rights of consumers. As the Times noted, “By inserting individual arbitration clauses into a soaring number of consumer and employment contracts, companies [have] devised a way to circumvent the courts and bar people from joining together in class-action lawsuits, realistically the only tool citizens have to fight illegal or deceitful business practices.”
As described in the Times article, it is increasingly difficult for consumers to purchase internet services, use a mobile phone, get a credit card, or even shop online without agreeing to private arbitration. Indeed, “The same applies to getting a job, renting a car or placing a relative in a nursing home.” The paper listed numerous instances of predations against consumers, all barred from lawsuits as a result of arbitration clauses. “By banning class actions, companies have essentially disabled consumer challenges to practices like predatory lending, wage theft and discrimination, court records show.”
American Association for Justice CEO Linda Lipsen issued the following statement in response to the Times investigation:
“Forced arbitration is a corporate bullying tactic designed to kick people out of court and eliminate their right to seek justice. It’s a rigged system set up by corporations to favor corporations.”
Big businesses are using fine print to take away the rights of consumers, patients, and workers. Unfortunately, forced arbitration has infiltrated nearly all aspects of American life. Americans are subjected to forced arbitration clauses when they use credit cards, talk on their cell phones, visit websites, start a new job, and even admit a loved one into a nursing home. Corporations use forced arbitration because they know that when they lie, cheat, and steal from the public, the fine print gives them a free pass to break the law and evade all accountability.
The AAJ invites consumers to sign the petition to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to help ensure the CFPB can revoke corporations’ license to steal by stopping the abusive practice of forced arbitration.
Lieff Cabraser advises consumers as well as businesses whether and how to pursue legal action to halt and obtain compensation for the deceptive practices of large corporations. With a blend of courage, superior legal skills, and high principles, we protect our clients’ interests and help them achieve their goals by winning highly-complex consumer protection lawsuits against those that have defrauded consumers.
Learn more about Lieff Cabraser’s Consumer Protection practice.