After reading Kia Franklin's article this morning on binding arbitration, I feel compelled to write and tell you how grateful I am to you for publishing it.
In 2007, I was subject to a binding arbitration fiasco of my own. I sued my former employer for breach of contract and fraud. I had a mountain of evidence on my side, but somehow the JAMS arbitrator conveniently overlooked all of that and the fact that my opponent was perjuring himself all throughout the deposition and proceeding, and decided against me. He ruled that I should pay my former employer's legal fees in addition to my own--even though my employer was insured. The total sum was right around a million dollars. Suddenly, instead of being entitled to back wages and damages, I was a debtor with no hope of appeal. I'm now in the process of declaring bankruptcy--a fate I never dreamed could ever happen to a guy like me.
I agreed to the arbitration clause in my contract because I had no idea of the pitfalls of the process. And because of the inherent secrecy of arbitrations, I also had no idea that there were a string of former employees who had found themselves in the exact same predicament I was getting myself into with the same employer. My ex-boss knows how to play the arbitration system like Billy Joel on a grand piano--and there are countless others like him. This is a perversion that was never intended when the Federal Arbitration Act was originally passed by Congress in 1925. It was designed, of course, to be a process whereby only like-sized businesses could settle claims out of the congested court system; however, over the years it has become a hammer for big business to slam on the head of ordinary consumers.
Only when people get angry about the usurping of their civil rights with this fascist tool will there be change. Everyone needs to write or call their Senators and Congressmen and demand that something be done about this Grand Canyon-sized loophole in our government. If you or someone you love hasn't been manhandled by the arbitration system yet, rest assured its only a matter of time.
Los Angeles, CA
Feb 11 2009 - 1:38pm