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Supreme Court ruling could limit employee rights

A Supreme Court case may mean that California employees will have a harder time taking legal action against their employers, depending upon the ultimate decision. At issue is whether employers can legally require employees to enter into arbitration to collectively settle overtime, wage and other claims. Oral arguments were heard on Oct. 2, and Justice Breyer has said that the case has the potential to undermine the New Deal.

Many workers sign contracts that require them to take their cases to arbitration. However, the National Labor Relations Board believes forcing workers to do so may violate their rights to protect each other. Those who represent the workers believe that they will be on the losing side on this matter because of the makeup of the court. Class action cases may be preferable for those who don't want to be singled out for retaliation or other poor treatment by their employers.

By banding together, there may be strength in numbers that may help achieve a favorable outcome in a case. Employers are generally against such suits because they can cost a lot of money. This may be true whether or not employees win their case. When a case is settled through arbitration, employers generally set the rules and also have the benefit of knowing that a worker cannot appeal a decision.

If a company violates employment law related to wage or overtime payment, employees may wish to take legal action. An attorney may be able to review payroll records and witness statements to determine if a worker may have a case. In some cases, an attorney may be willing to represent a class if it is certified. If successful, workers may be entitled to both regular back or overtime pay that was earned but never received.

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