Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis

All organizations in the country employ people. Employment laws impact everyone, regardless if you are actively employed or not. As employers continue to control costs associated with claims from employees, employers have commonly turned to arbitration agreements. These agreements normally require employees to waive any right or protection afforded by joining a class action and instead forces each individual employee to take the claims before an individual arbitration. The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) decided this year in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis by a narrow margin of 5-4 that employers could enforce these arbitration agreements.

In your assignment this week please explain why the court got this correct AND explain why the court was wrong. Lastly, if you were the 10th justice how would you vote and why?

This link should provide you with details on the case: https://www.oyez.org/cases/2017/16-285

Answer:

The Supreme Court’s decision in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis was a divisive one, with arguments for both sides. Here’s my take on why the court got it right and why the court was wrong, and if I were the 10th justice, how I would vote and why:

Why the court got it right:

  • The Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) of 1925 provides for the enforcement of arbitration agreements in the United States. The court’s ruling in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis aligned with the FAA, which has been established for nearly a century and has been interpreted consistently over the years to support the enforcement of arbitration agreements.
  • The arbitration agreement in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis was voluntarily entered into by the employees. The employees had the choice to either sign the agreement or not take the job, and they made an informed decision to sign the agreement.
  • Arbitration can often be faster and more efficient than going through the court system. Individual arbitration can also provide a more cost-effective and informal setting for resolving disputes between employees and employers.

Why the court was wrong:

  • The court’s decision in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis may have limited the ability of employees to enforce their rights under employment laws. By requiring employees to pursue claims individually in arbitration, employees may have less leverage and bargaining power compared to if they had the option to join together in a class action.
  • The court’s decision in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis may also lead to inconsistent outcomes for employees with similar claims. This can create an unfair system where employees with similar claims receive different remedies based on the outcome of their individual arbitrations.

If I were the 10th justice, I would vote in favor of the employees and against the enforcement of the arbitration agreement in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis. I believe that the ability of employees to join together in a class action is an important protection under employment laws, and that individual arbitration may not provide a fair and efficient mechanism for resolving disputes between employees and employers.

Ultimately, my vote would be based on a balancing of the interests of both employees and employers and the role of the court in protecting the rights of employees under employment laws.

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