Supreme Court: One Hand Can Arbitrate, The Other Can Litigate EEOC Enforcement Allowed In Bias Cases

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that a worker’s agreement to arbitrate employment-related disputes with an employer does not prevent a federal agency from obtaining relief for discrimination against the employee. The high court, by a 6-3 vote, sided with the agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which argued it still should be allowed to obtain victim-specific relief, including back pay, reinstatement and damages.The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that a worker’s agreement to arbitrate employment-related disputes with an employer does not prevent a federal agency from obtaining relief for discrimination against the employee.

The high court, by a 6-3 vote, sided with the agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which argued it still should be allowed to obtain victim-specific relief, including back pay, reinstatement and damages.

The justices, in an opinion written by Justice John Paul Stevens, reversed a U.S. appeals court ruling that the EEOC could not seek relief on behalf of workers covered by arbitration agreements.

After giving its blessing to arbitration in recent years, the U.S. Supreme Court slowed that momentum by ruling that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission can step into disputes covered by arbitration agreements. The ruling could reverse or complicate the trend of using arbitration in employment disputes by depriving arbitration of finality, employer-side labor lawyers said.
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