Rep. Henry Johnson has introduced the Arbitration Fairness Act of 2009 in the U.S. House of Representatives. The legislation would prohibit the enforcement of binding mandatory arbitration clauses in consumer, employment, and franchisee contracts. We have seen the Constitutional right of a jury trial being taken away from American citizens. Guaranteed by the Constitution, this right has been gradually eroded because of the use of mandatory, binding arbitration. Once used as a method for businesses to solve their disputes, arbitration agreements have now found their way into employment, consumer, franchise, and medical contracts.
The Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) was enacted as an alternative to resolve disputes between businesses on equal footing. Today, arbitration is being forced on consumers. Citing it as a cheaper, informal, expedited process, these contracts of adhesion leave consumers, employees, and small businesses at a distinct disadvantage. This legislation would return the FAA to its original intention and take out consumer, medical, franchise, and employment agreements from these pre-dispute agreements. Mandatory, binding arbitration gives only one side the upper hand and that is totally unfair. The Arbitration Fairness Act (AFA) would allow voluntary arbitration while preserving the right to trial by jury. The bill would prohibit a powerful corporation from forcing a consumer into a rigged mandatory arbitration system.
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