If you have signed new hire documents without actually looking at what you were signing, chances are that you gave up your rights to sue your employer if wrongfully terminated. In other words, you signed an arbitration agreement, which your employer most likely included in the employment contract, which – let’s be honest – you didn’t even read.
Most people opt to not read the employment contract or read it not too carefully, which is why things like that happen. So what is an arbitration agreement? And does it mean that just because you signed it you will never be able to get compensated if wrongfully terminated? Well, not necessarily.
Is arbitration agreement a bad thing?
If you believe that you were discriminated in the workplace or were wrongfully terminated, you will not be able to pursue legal action against your employer in court if you signed the arbitration agreement. Before you freak out, there’s still a way to get compensation for wrongful termination or discrimination. If you signed an arbitration agreement, your claim will be decided by a third party arbitrator (usually a retired jury or attorney hired individually or through an arbitration service). By signing an arbitration agreement, you basically agree to submit any employment-related disputes to an arbitrator.
Your case will be settled by the process of arbitration, which is an alternative to filing a lawsuit in court. Is this alternative more or less fair to an employee? To tell you the truth, the arbitration process does have its disadvantages, which is why your employer chose to include the arbitration agreement in new hire documents in the first place.
My name is Jeffrey Rager and I am a Los Angeles wrongful termination attorney who has helped hundreds of my clients obtain more than $33 million in verdicts and settlements in wrongful termination cases.
Disadvantages of arbitration
Many of my clients have been forced to resolve employment-related disputes through arbitration after signing an arbitration agreement. From my personal experience dealing with hundreds of wrongful termination claims in court, I can outline the disadvantages of arbitration for an employee:
- you can potentially be fired for refusing to sign an arbitration agreement if you’re an at-will employee (and you won’t be able to do anything about it)
- refusing to sign an arbitration agreement may reduce or cancel out your chances of landing a job
- while in trial your wrongful termination or another employment-related case would be heard in front of juries, which in California and all over the U.S. are inclined to be predisposed to ruling in favor of employees, in case of arbitration your case will be heard and decided by only one person
- an arbitrator usually follows the employment laws exactly and cannot be swayed by emotions or sympathy to an employee
- an arbitrator usually requests less evidence and documents, which can be a bad thing if you have collected tons of convincing evidence allegedly proving discrimination or wrongful termination
- arbitration decisions cannot be appealed. It’s practically impossible to get higher courts to get a second look at the arbitration decision.
It may be quite difficult to win an arbitration process if you believe your employer has wrongfully terminated you or discriminated against you. But as practice shows, it’s possible to get the arbitrator to decide in your favor if you know what you’re doing. Given that you can’t submit much evidence to the arbitrator, it’s vital to know what kind of evidence brings you most winning points.
Here at Rager & Yoon – Employment Lawyers, we follow tried-and-true methods that have helped hundreds of our clients win arbitration cases and obtain millions of dollars for wrongful termination and discrimination. Call our offices at 310-527-6994 for a free initial consultation.
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