The ever-more business friendly Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today in a case that has the potential to shut a whole lot of regular Americans out of the justice system. The nation's largest rent-to-own furniture company, Rent-a-Center, has asked the court to decide essentially whether huge corporate players should be able to use one-sided contracts to opt out of the civil justice system and judge themselves when customers and employees want to sue for discrimination or other abuses.
The case has enormous implications for big business, which has for years now been able to avoid legal accountability and big jury awards for employment discrimination, fraud, and even sexual assault by forcing people to sign what's known as a mandatory arbitration clause as a condition of getting a cell phone, using a credit card, buying a car, or getting a job. The clauses force people to bring any complaint against the company before a private arbitrator, hired by the company, whose decisions can't be reviewed by a judge in most cases. Not surprisingly, those arbitrators rarely find in favor of the little guy. But over the past couple of years, the little guy has been fighting back and occasionally winning important victories.
keyboard shortcuts: V vote up article J next comment K previous comment