Murphy Oil may be the last workers' rights case the Supreme Court has the opportunity to consider // Economic Policy Institute Blog
Yesterday, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) filed its brief in NLRB v. Murphy Oil, which will be argued in the Supreme Court in October. The case will determine whether mandatory arbitration agreements with individual workers that prevent them from pursuing work-related claims collectively are prohibited by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The brief makes clear what is at stake for workers if the Supreme Court were to rule against the NLRB in this matter.
The NLRA guarantees workers the right to stand together for "mutual aid and protection" when seeking to improve their wages and working conditions. Employer interference with this right is prohibited. However, increasingly, employers are requiring workers to sign arbitration agreements that force them to waive their rights to collective actions, and handle workplace disputes as individuals. In practice, that means that even if many workers faced the same type of dispute at work, each individual employee must hire their own lawyer, and must resolve their disputes out of court, behind closed doors, with only their employer and a private arbitrator. The NLRB has found these forced arbitration agreements interfere with workers' right to engage in concerted activity for their mutual aid and protection, in violation of the NLRA.
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