AAJ Report: Forced Arbitration During a Pandemic

Today, the American Association for Justice (AAJ) released a new report, Forced Arbitration During a Pandemic: Corporations Double Down, which found that consumer and employment forced arbitrations increased during the pandemic while consumer and employee win rates decreased.  

Specifically, the report found that while the 2020 pandemic forced courtrooms across the country to shut down or take halting steps towards Zoom trials, the secretive world of forced arbitration kept going strong. An analysis of closed arbitration claims at the nation’s two largest forced arbitration providers—the American Arbitration Association (AAA) and JAMS—shows that consumer and employment forced arbitrations increased during the pandemic.

The Washington Post published an article on AAJ’s new report, noting that Family Dollar and its parent company, Dollar Tree, were prolific users of forced arbitration during the pandemic, closing 1,135 cases in 2020 – nearly a third of all arbitrations.

U.S. companies are increasingly relying mandatory arbitration to settle employee and consumer grievances during the pandemic. Family Dollar closed 1,135 such cases last year, up from three in 2019.

 As closed-door arbitration soared last year, workers won cases against employers just 1.6 percent of the time. In fact, despite roughly 60 million workers being subject to forced arbitration provisions at their place of employment, just 82 employees won a monetary award in forced arbitration in 2020 at AAA and JAMS, the two largest consumer and employment arbitration providers in the country.

This new analysis confirms the need for Congress to immediately pass the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal (FAIR) Act (H.R.963/S.505) and restore Americans’ fundamental rights to access justice when they’ve been harmed. The U.S. House Judiciary Committee is marking up the FAIR Act today. You can encourage your members of Congress to send this important legislation to President Biden’s desk using this action item.

The attorneys at Olsman MacKenzie Peacock & Wallace are all members and active supporters of AAJ. Jules Olsman and Donna MacKenzie are past Chairs of the AAJ Nursing Home Litigation Group (NHLG). Emily Peacock is currently the Secretary of the AAJ Women Trial Lawyers Association. MacKenzie and Peacock have also served on the Executive Board for AAJ.