If you think you’ve been fired for being too old, depending on where you work, you may not be able to take your employer to court.
Many companies require employees to submit disputes to binding arbitration as a condition of their employment. That means you may have already waived your right to sue.
There are pros and cons to binding arbitration, but a big con is that you can’t appeal a decision, and you give up the right to have your case heard by a jury.
Along with Senators Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham, New York’s U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand successfully passed a law limiting forced arbitration in cases of sexual harassment.
Now, she’s working with the same group of people to ban it in cases of age discrimination.
“When workers hit 50 or 55, there seems to be a rush by employers to fire a lot of people because they want to get rid of high-cost employees in exchange for newer, younger, less experienced, lower-cost employees,” said Gillibrand.
Binding arbitration agreements are common. One example: if you use a credit card and you want to sue the credit card company, you may not be able to because using some cards automatically waives your right to sue. ,
When asked why these agreements have become so common, Gillibrand said that they usually work in the favor of the corporation.
“They advantage large employers, and they advantage large companies. Typically, the company is the one that chooses the arbiter. They’re the ones who hire the arbitration organization. And typically, the judgements favor the person who hired them,” Gillibrand said.
Gillibrand argues the system creates an uneven playing field.
“The employee has far less in terms of rights and resources and lawyers and tactics. So, if you want to get justice in cases where there is uneven power, you really need to use our judicial system. You need a court of law where you can try a case before a jury of your peers,” Gillibrand said.