A new employment law case facing review by the U.S. Supreme Court may have a massive impact on employees’ class action rights. Ernst & Young LLP v. Morris raises the fundamental question of whether a business can prohibit its employees from using collective legal action to challenge improper workplace issues such as unpaid wages and discrimination.
NationSwell frames the case: “Here’s the situation: Big corporations, as well as startups, have increasingly asked new-hires to sign employment contracts containing waivers that forfeit the employees’ rights to pursue class-action lawsuits against their employers. Instead, individual employees are required to use arbitration to settle disputes.”
Arbitration is not only cheaper for companies, depriving employees of their rights to bring a group lawsuit challenging illegal employer conduct also tends to vitiate the impact and even the bringing of such challenges. “If an employer engages in unlawful activity that affects its workforce broadly, those claims are often too small to be brought by one person,” explains Lieff Cabraser partner Anne B. Shaver. The preclusion of such cases in favor of arbitration can thus act to shield employers entirely from accountability for improper and illegal conduct.
Morris is expected to be heard by the Supreme Court in October.
Upholding Employee Rights
Lieff Cabraser has a strong tradition of fighting for employee rights across America. Our employment law class action cases challenge discrimination based on employees’ race, color, national origin, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, or disability; wage violations, including failure to pay overtime, break time, or vacation time; and misuse of employees’ retirement benefits. We also represent employees who “blow the whistle” on wrongdoing by their employers as well as in other cases alleging violations of the law.
About Anne B. Shaver
A partner in Lieff Cabraser’s San Francisco Office, Anne Shaver has represented workers in landmark class action lawsuits, including the ground-breaking suit against Apple, Google, Intel, and other prominent Silicon Valley companies, which challenged practices suppressing the pay of technical, creative, and other salaried employees.