Late last week, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a decision in D.R. Horton, Inc., ruling that companies cannot prevent employees from bringing workplace grievances as a class in all judicial venues under mandatory arbitration agreements.
The decision didn’t come as much of a shock to anyone familiar with the details of the case. Under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), employees have full freedom to come together and engage in concerted activity to address workplace concerns. In clear violation of the Act, D.R. Horton enforced its arbitration agreement by dividing a group of workers facing overtime violations into single units. In other words, workers had to seek justice as individuals rather than as a group—even though they shared the same complaint against their employer.
As our Executive Director Kimberly Freeman Brown pointed out in her statement,
[W]hen a company refuses to allow workers to join together to arbitrate claims, it raises the costs to individual employees, dissuades other employees from following through with their claims, and increases the likelihood that workers will be coerced during the process. In other words, the balance of power shifts even more toward lawbreaking corporations.
Particularly in these tough economic times, it’s critical that we protect workers’ right to join together to improve their workplace. And the NLRB’s decision in this case brings us one step closer to that goal.