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Arbitrate, Dont Litigate, Supreme Court Tells Employees
(RIVERWOODS, ILL., March 22, 2001) If you have a beef with your boss, you
may have to forget about taking it to court. Instead, like a baseball player, you may have
to hope that an arbitrator sees things your way, according to CCH INCORPORATED (CCH), a
leading provider of employment law and human resources information and software.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court closed the door on attempts by employees to avoid
mandatory arbitration of employment disputes, holding that a possible exemption from
arbitration for "employment contracts" found in a 1925 federal law - the Federal Arbitration Act - was
limited to contracts of transportation workers.
The Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that a gay former employee who alleged discrimination
by his employer was required to arbitrate his claim under an arbitration agreement the
employee signed as a condition of being hired
Agreements such as the one the employee signed prevent employees from taking their
employment disputes to either federal or state courts and instead require employees to
utilize alternative dispute resolution procedures, such as arbitration, created by their
Employers Prefer Arbitration
"Arbitration is preferred by many employers because it lessens the costs and
uncertainty associated with court litigation and can be faster and more private as
well," noted Deborah Hammonds, JD, labor and employment law analyst with CCH. Unlike
court proceedings, the findings of an arbitrator are not normally a matter of public
The Supreme Court's action overturns a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals,
which was the only federal appeals court that refused to enforce arbitration agreements in
employment contracts under the FAA.
"There has been a trend toward writing mandatory arbitration into individual
employment contracts and employee handbooks, and its likely that trend will pick up
steam now that the Supreme Court has spoken," Hammonds said.
About CCH INCORPORATED
CCH INCORPORATED, headquartered in Riverwoods, Ill., was founded in 1913 and has
served four generations of business professionals and their clients. The company produces
more than 700 electronic and print products for the tax, legal, securities, human
resources, health care and small business markets. CCH is a wholly owned subsidiary of
Wolters Kluwer North America. The CCH web site can be accessed at www.cch.com. The CCH Human Resources Group
site can be accessed at http://hr.cch.com.
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