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Employment Law After Gilmer: Compulsory Arbitration of Statutory Antidiscrimination Rights

Donna Meredith Matthews
Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law
Vol. 18, No. 2 (1997), pp. 347-387
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/24050744
Page Count: 41
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Employment Law After Gilmer: Compulsory Arbitration of Statutory Antidiscrimination Rights
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Abstract

In this article, the author argues that compulsory arbitration of statutory anti-discrimination rights pursuant to pre-dispute employment agreements is unconscionable and contrary to public policy. After analyzing the Supreme Court's 1991 decision in Gilmer v. Interstate/Johnson Lane Corp. and its implications in-depth, she sets out the "best" apparent grounds for challenging that case and its progeny. In Gilmer, the Court found a presumption favoring arbitration of discrimination claims, extending to a pre-dispute, binding arbitration clause in a securities licensing agreement. According to the Court, arbitration was no longer just a private means of resolving disputes between freely contracting parties, but also an alternate forum for resolution of public, statutory rights. Subsequently, a majority of the circuits have held that Gilmer extends to mandatory arbitration of discrimination claims under employment contracts as well. In conclusion, the author suggests a more viable model for resolution of employment disputes and recommends that Congress amend the Civil Rights Act of 1991 to bar pre-dispute binding arbitration of federal discrimination claims.

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