September 13, 2014
AFJ's First Monday campaign: Fighting back against forced arbitration
Buried in everyday agreements for products, services, and jobs is fine print saying when you are harmed, you can't go before an impartial jury or judge. Instead, these forced arbitration clauses send you to a decision-maker chosen by the company that wronged you. Not surprisingly, one study found that arbitrators rule for companies over consumers 94 percent of the time. And you're stuck with their decision because there's no appeal. It's a rigged system that helps companies evade responsibility for violating anti-discrimination, consumer protection, and public health laws.
But AFJ is fighting back. This fall, our 2014 First Monday campaign will educate the public about forced arbitration and provide tools to help all Americans stand up for our rights. At the heart of the campaign is a new video. Lost in the Fine Print tells the story of three everyday people who found themselves trapped in a system that is stacked against them and what that did to their lives and livelihoods.
Sign up here to be one of the first to see the video.
Find out more about forced arbitration.
Hear AFJ Justice Programs Director Michelle Schwartz discuss forced arbitration on several radio programs:
The Julianna Forlano Show
Majority Report with Sam Seder
The Matthew Flipowicz Show
Thanks to my clients, I am able to support terrific organizations like Salem Harvest:
Dear Mr. Gear,
WOW. This FOX affiliate's "Reality Check" is an amazingly good piece of local TV journalism. WELL WORTH A WATCH.
Please share the video at the link with as many people as you can. Until everyday people realize just how badly the justice system has been privatized, corrupted, and turned against us, the real people, businesses will keep getting away with using arbitration to cover up their crimes and they will continue pouring money into campaigns to lock in their unfair dispute resolution scheme, where they get to use the power of the courts against you, but not the other way around.
Popular outrage is the only antidote. We have to start defeating any candidate for federal office who won't make fixing this mess a top priority.
Today marks John Gear Law Office's fourth birthday.
I am very grateful to all the clients who have trusted me with their problems and given me the opportunity to help them find solutions. Thanks to your trust and confidence, I have been able to meet my primary practice goal: Making a modest living with a "values-based Oregon law practice" -- where "values-based" means I don't represent the folks trying to take advantage of others, my clients are the ones wronged by those who do.
It's not the easiest area of law and it's definitely not the most lucrative, but I think it's the most satisfying. As the Mrs. works towards her M. Div. and ordination as a minister, I am able to have a practice that reflects, rather than conflicts with, the values of a ministry.
ADRC is a FREE service to help people learn about public and privately paid options to address aging or disability needs, or to help families and caregivers. Anyone in Oregon can use the service for themselves or their families.
"In a decision just two days ago, a federal judge appointed by George W. Bush felt compelled by U.S. Supreme Court decisions to enforce an arbitration clause even though the judge noted that
(a) the court did not believe that the plaintiffs ever believed they were signing away their right to bring a lawsuit;
(b) enforcing the clause would “undermine effective enforcement of federal antitrust laws”; and
(c) enforcing the clause after the defendant first had decided to litigate in court was “inefficient and wasteful.”
The court concluded that in this area of law, “common sense plays no role.”
Here’s a blog post about the case, with link to the decision:
This is a true poster child of arbitration abuse, really highlighting just how unfair the law has gotten under the current U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions. If people will read this decision, they may well get a sense of just how out of whack the law has gotten in this area."
Emily Bazelon's explanation of a recent Obama executive order is posted on Slate.
Tell your Congresscritter: Don't Let Corporations Endanger Our Health and Safety with Secrecy Deals!
We shouldn't let giant corporations keep hiding what they know about defective products when they settle lawsuits!
Private binding arbitration clauses don't just screw consumers and employees. They also hurt investors -- including the people who just have their pension and retirement savings in 401(k) plans or other retirement savings plans -- because private binding arbitration is how corporate managers prevent anyone from knowing how badly they are screwing up and mistreating people (customers, employees), which creates huge liabilities. If you're an investor, you should tell your companies to stop giving management cover for wasting investors' money -- tell them to stop using private binding arbitration clauses, so that you have a way to keep an eye on your money.
"Think about it. If American Apparel and Mr. Charney had been subject to public lawsuits, how long could have Mr. Charney lasted?"