Rep. Johnson pleased to take part in Arbitration Fairness Day
April 28, 2009
WASHINGTON – When Jamie Leigh Jones of Houston was allegedly raped by co-workers while working for a Halliburton subsidiary in Iraq, her company said she couldn’t take her assailants court because the employment agreement she signed required her claims to be settled through arbitration.
David Kurth of Burlington, Wis., was also denied the ability to sue after his father died as a result of alleged poor care he received in a nursing home. The nursing home claimed the paperwork a family member had signed when the father was admitted required the matter to go to binding arbitration.
It is cases such as these and thousands of others that prompted Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-04) to introduce H.R. 1020, the Arbitration Fairness Act of 2009 in February.
And it is also the reason he is pleased to announce he will participate in Arbitration Fairness Day on Wednesday, April 29 at the Dirksen Senate Office Building.
Johnson’s bill, which he first introduced in the 110th Congress, has set the standard in its attempt to protect consumers from business practices that require them to cede their rights to a jury trial as a condition of service.
Johnson will join Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) in Dirksen Senate Office Building for a 12:15 p.m. press conference on April 29 to bring public awareness to the issue. The event is being sponsored by a consortium of advocacy groups, including Public Citizen and the American Association of Justice.
Today, many businesses rely on mandatory and binding pre-dispute arbitration agreements that force consumers, employees and franchisees to settle any dispute with a company providing products or services without the benefit of a jury trial.
“This is not an anti-business bill, but a pro-consumer bill,” said Johnson.
“One of our indelible rights is the right of a jury trial. Guaranteed by the Constitution, this right has been gradually ceded by citizens every day as they purchase a new cell phone, buy a home, place a loved one in a nursing home, or accept a new job. Once used as a tool for businesses to solve their disputes, arbitration agreements have found their way into employment, consumer, franchise and medical contracts.”
The Judiciary Committee, on which Johnson serves, held hearings on the bill in 2007 and 2008. Sen. Feingold introduced similar legislation in the Senate in 2007.