Federal Court Ignores Supreme Court Guidance on Collective Action Arbitration

A federal district court in Idaho chose to follow the NLRB, instead of the Supreme Court and several U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals, on the hot topic of collective action arbitration. Brown v. Citicorp, No. 1:12-CV-00062 (D. Idaho Feb. 21, 2013). The court reviewed an arbitration agreement between an employer and employee. In the agreement, the employee agreed to individually arbitrate employment disputes, and so agreed not to bring a collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The court refused to compel arbitration; according to the court, the arbitration agreement was an unlawful waiver of the employee’s right to engage in “concerted action” under the National Labor Relations Act. The ruling ignores case law from Circuit Courts, and disregards a Supreme Court opinion that strongly suggested employees’ right to bring a collective action rights could be waived in an arbitration agreement. To top it off, the court relied heavily on an NLRB decision recently declared invalid because the NLRB did not have the requisite number of Board members at the time of the decision.

This leads us to ask: Do workers in Idaho get more protection from the NLRA than others?

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