Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) has reintroduced the Arbitration Fairness Act (S. 931), a bill that would render unenforceable predispute agreements mandating arbitration of employment, consumer, franchise or civil rights claims. A similar bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Henry Johnson (D-GA) on February 12 (H.R. 1020). The Senate bill, however, contains an additional provision that would expressly overturn the recent Supreme Court decision in 14 Penn Plaza L.L.C v. Pyett, in which the Court held that a provision in a collective bargaining agreement that clearly and unmistakably requires union members to arbitrate Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) claims is enforceable as a matter of federal law. According to a press release issued by Sen. Feingold, the terms of the bill would not prohibit pre-dispute arbitration clauses in collective bargaining agreements, but would reverse Penn Plaza “to make it clear that such agreements may not waive employees’ rights to take federal and state statutory or constitutional claims to court.”
This bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.