Forced into Arbitration, Consumers Ready to Take Justice Back

(Editor's note: The following blog is from AAJ President, Larry Tawwater)

Forced arbitration is a corporate bullying at its worst.  It is a tactic that that tricks consumers into giving up their rights and forces them into a rigged arbitration system.  That means corporations cannot be held accountable in court and that means very bad news for consumers. Forced arbitration clauses are showing up everywhere, found in everything from credit card agreements to nursing home admission forms, always hidden in fine print.

What’s more, forced arbitration clauses deny people their right to band together as a class, even when a company cheats them or breaks the law. Why is that important? Because corporations know that if they cheat an individual customer out of a small amount of money, most people won’t fight back if they have to do it on their own.  So if those consumers can’t band together, corporations can get away with raking in billions of dollars of money that doesn’t below to them.

The American Association for Justice has been fighting back at the state and federal levels against forced arbitration. Through our grassroots advocacy campaign at Take Justice Back, we’ve been telling the stories of small business owners, service men and women, and students at for-profit colleges who have signed away their rights and were forced into a rigged process. 

In May, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposed to restore the right of Americans to join together to hold Wall Street accountable. In June, the Department of Education proposed to prohibit forced arbitration at for-profit colleges that receive federal funds. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are considering a proposal that would limit the use of forced arbitration in nursing home admission contracts. Legislation in Congress would limit forced arbitration in loans and workplace discrimination for our men and women who serve the Armed Forces. The tide is turning, but more can and should be done.

Take Justice Back is where we can tell the stories of our clients who lost their rights to forced arbitration. It is where we can shine a light on this pernicious practice, and educate the public on what they lose when they agree to the fine print. But Take Justice Back relies on AAJ members. Take a moment to follow Take Justice Back on Twitter, and like it on Facebook. Contact AAJ’s communications department if you’ve got a client or a story about forced arbitration that you’re willing to share.

Our Seventh Amendment rights are being stolen from us. It must stop. Together, we can stand up to corporate bullying, stop the scourge of forced arbitration and Take Justice Back.