The Supreme Court Is Set to Clarify Employment Agreements and Arbitration Clauses on Class Action Waivers

Author: Sean Gentry

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear cases regarding class action waivers in employment agreements.  In the past, the Supreme Court has upheld such waivers of class action claims, where employers have their employees sign agreements to arbitrate those claims individually if they should arise (not as part of a class) under the Federal Arbitration Act.  However, recent cases in the U.S. Circuit Courts have weighed in on whether these waivers are enforceable in light of the National Labor Relations Act, which has created a split among the courts on whether the waivers were valid under the National Labor Relations Board’s decisions in D.R. Horton, Inc. (2012) and Murphy Oil USA, Inc. (2014).  This split includes the Ninth Circuit here in California (Morris v. Ernst & Young) and the Seventh Circuit (Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis), which both agreed with the NLRB’s decisions to invalidate the waivers under the NLRA, against the Fifth Circuit (National Labor Relations Board v. Murphy Oil USA, Inc.), which did not.  The Supreme Court’s decision on this matter will hopefully bring some certainty for employers about how effective the use of these waivers will be going forward, and whether to use arbitration clauses in their employment agreements.

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