Fighting forced consumer arbitration has been a long fight, but consumer groups are saying that they have never been closer to victory. Whether you know it or not, forced arbitration is a topic that affects all of us. Whenever you buy a car, get a new cell phone plan, or open a new credit card, there is a good chance that you are signing away your right to seek immediate justice in court when you are signing those lengthy contracts.
Public Citizen, a consumer action group, calls forced arbitration one of the most critical threats to consumer rights today. A Public Citizen 2009 study found arbitration clauses in 75% of consumer contracts. Proponents of forced arbitration have reported that arbitration keeps court costs down and act as a block to unreasonable claims. However, we have seen how forced arbitration has resulted in abuse. For example, victims of identity theft have been ordered to pay debt-collection fees and employees have been forced to bring discrimination claims before panels of employment defense attorneys.
There are some strategies that consumer advocates are implementing against forced arbitration. One goal is to secure the passage of the Arbitration Fairness Act, which would ban forced arbitration in all consumer and employment contracts. Another pending legislation piece that hits close to home for the Chicago nursing home neglect attorneys at Levin & Perconti is the Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act (H.R. 1237, S. 512). The Nursing Home Arbitration Act would eliminate forced arbitration clauses in nursing home contracts.
To learn more about forced consumer arbitration, visit the Public Citizen website.