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Search Results for: arbitration

Sixth Circuit Decision is Win for Workers: Courts, Not Arbitrators, To Decide Whether There is Valid Arbitration Agreement and Burden to Prove Agreement Is on Employers.

Niara Stitt, Law Clerk at Freking Myers & Reul

On April 9, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals which covers federal courts in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Michigan, ruled in favor of employees facing arbitration demands by their employers. In Taylor v. Pilot Corporation, the class-action plaintiffs brought suit, arguing that their employer violated overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

During the lawsuit, the employees filed a motion asking the trial court to require Pilot to turn over information about the date on which each employee was hired. In response, Pilot filed a motion asking the court to force the employees to submit their claims to arbitration. Pilot argued that all the employees had signed arbitration agreements the day they were hired. Arbitration, an alternative dispute resolution format, often favors employers.

The employees again asked the court to make Pilot provide their employment date information to their lawyers so that any employees who did not actually sign the Arbitration Agreement would not be forced to arbitrate. The trial court sided with the employees, requiring Pilot to provide the information.

On the appeal by Pilot, the Sixth Circuit said that it is up to the courts to decide whether the employees entered into an enforceable arbitration agreement before making them go to arbitration. Importantly, the court said that the burden to prove that there was an agreement to arbitrate is on the employer.

The Sixth Circuit ultimately dismissed the appeal brought by Pilot. Because the appeal was based on a discovery issue— where the parties disagreed about what information Pilot had to give to the lawyers for the employees— the Court said the appeal was not from a final decision on the question of whether Pilot could force the employees to go to arbitration. In other words, it was not proper for the Court to hear Pilot’s appeal at this stage of the case.

This case should encourage workers to demand information about their commitment to arbitration. If an employer refuses to share this information, a lawyers for the employee can file a discovery motion asking the court to make the employer turn over this information. When an employer tries to force a worker into arbitration, it is up to the employer to prove to the court that there is a valid agreement to arbitrate entered into by the employee.

For more information on arbitration and its impact on workers, click here.


Forced Arbitration Is Bad for All Americans

Mark Napier

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on December 18 on the pending Arbitration Fairness Act of 2013 (S.878 / H.R. 1844.) This bill is critical to employees, nursing home residents, credit card holders, banking customers, and other consumers – virtually all Americans. Forced arbitration language is becoming commonplace in employment handbooks and consumer agreements. Persons who agree to forced arbitration typically never know they forfeited their rights until a dispute arises.

Forced arbitration takes away the rights of the employee or consumer to seek redress in our courts. Forced arbitration favors Big Business who gets to call the shots on where, when, how, and who decides the employee’s or consumer’s dispute. Forget about an unbiased jury or judge, discovery procedures to uncover evidence, and reasonable costs. Without passage of the Arbitration Fairness Act, Big Business gets to eliminate most employment civil rights and consumer protections. Congress must protect Americans from forced arbitration and restore Americans’ rights to seek justice in our courts with unbiased jurors, not hired arbitrators paid for by Big Business.

Please email your U.S. Senator and Representative today to urge passage of the Arbitration Fairness Act.  You may also contact Richard Cordray, the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.


Who Says Arbitration Speeds Up Justice?

Katherine Neff

Last week the Wall Street Journal chronicled the 44-year battle Cleveland, Ohio railroad workers had with their former employer Pennsylvania Railroad.  After Pennsylvania Railroad merged with New York Central Railroad to form Penn Central Transportation Corp. in 1968, the 32 workers lost their jobs and seniority.  After initially filing in an Ohio federal district court, the workers were forced to go through arbitration, one case at a time, as a result of the court’s 1979 decision to enforce the arbitration agreement.

The 44-year battle included three arbitration panels, several courts and a review by the federal Surface Transportation Board.  By the time the lawsuit concluded, only two workers were alive.

Finally, after an appeal by Penn Central of the third arbitration panel’s 2009 decision to award $14.2 million, nearly all of which was interest, in August the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed the award.

Although the chairman of the arbitration panel that awarded the workers $14.7 million in damages accused all parties involved in the proceedings of bearing some responsibility for the delay, he identified Penn Central, as “rarely miss[ing] an opportunity” to lengthen the dispute.

Although this case is certainly an extreme example of delayed justice, it is important to consider when entering into an arbitration agreement that arbitration may not result in a speedy resolution of your dispute or save you court costs.

View the decision here.



Judge Says $100 Million Not Fair And Reasonable To Settle Uber Class Action

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

Last week federal Judge Edward Chen of the Northern District of California declined to approve a $100 million dollar settlement in a class-action suit by approximately 385 thousand Uber drivers. The Judge said that the amount was still not enough to be fair and reasonable. The Judge said drivers were potentially owed $700 million in mileage reimbursement, $122 million in tips, $2.4 million in overtime and $30 million in phone reimbursements. Attorneys for the drivers and Uber had agreed on the settlement. The risk for Uber in not settling is it could get hit with a big verdict at trial. There is risk for the drivers as well, however, aside from potentially losing at trial. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is reviewing the decision to certify the class of 385 thousand drivers. If that decision were to be overturned, nearly all of the drivers would have to pursue their claims individually in arbitration. When the same thing happened to Lyft in a similar lawsuit, it increased its proposal from $12.5 million to $27 million and that amount was approved by the judge overseeing that litigation. We’ll see what happens here.

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Erin M. Heidrich

Beth Schirmer


Erin M. Heidrich

Cincinnati, Ohio
phone (513) 721-1975
fax (513) 651-2570

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Erin Heidrich graduated summa cum laude from Chase College of Law. At Chase, Erin was a senior articles editor of the Northern Kentucky Law Review, co-chair of the Chase Public Interest Law Group, and a member of the arbitration team. Before law school, Erin was a high school English teacher. As a law student, she was an Americorps JD clerk at the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati, where she researched racially-motivated school discipline and worked on a multi-plaintiff civil rights case against a large Cincinnati school district. In her final year of law school, Erin was a student clinician at the Children’s Law Center in Covington, KY, where she helped represent children in school, delinquency, and family matters. Since joining Freking Myers & Reul, Erin has represented children and their parents in school discipline, discrimination and special education matters. She has also represented employees in all areas of employment law. Erin has been designated an Ohio Super Lawyers Rising Star for 2020 and 2019.

Legal Career:
  • Associate, Freking Myers & Reul LLC
Areas of Practice:
  • Employment Law
  • School Law
  • Chase College of Law, J.D
  • University of Sheffield, M.A.
  • Northern Kentucky University, B.A.
Professional Associations
  • Ohio State Bar Association
  • Cincinnati Bar Association
  • Northern Kentucky Bar Association
  • Ohio Employment Lawyers Association
  • National Employment Lawyers Association
  • State of Ohio
  • Commonwealth of Kentucky
  • Ohio Super Lawyers Rising Star 2020, 2019
  • Judge Judy West Award (2014) — Northern Kentucky Bar Association, Women Lawyers Section.