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Scheinman Institute Blog

The Scheinman Institute blog provides the latest information and news about the Institute's research, education, student engagement and outreach.

The Growing Use of Mandatory Arbitration

Alexander Colvin

Alexander Colvin

In a trend driven by a series of Supreme Court decisions dating back to 1991, American employers are increasingly requiring their workers to sign mandatory arbitration agreements. Under such agreements, workers whose rights are violated can’t pursue their claims in court but must submit to arbitration procedures that research shows overwhelmingly favor employers.

In reviewing the existing literature on the extent of this practice, we found that the share of workers subject to mandatory arbitration had clearly increased in the decade following the initial 1991 court decision: by the early 2000s, the share of workers subject to mandatory arbitration had risen from just over 2 percent (in 1992) to almost a quarter of the workforce. However, more recent data were not available. In order to obtain current data for our study, we conducted a nationally representative survey of nonunion private-sector employers regarding their use of mandatory employment arbitration.

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