When individuals or small businesses enter into a transaction to buy goods or services, they are typically asked to sign a contract or agree to a customer agreement which includes a mandatory arbitration clause. These provisions, typically buried within the fine print, block individuals from accessing the courts, and instead force them into an expensive, secretive, and privately-operated dispute resolution system. This system favors the very corporations which force consumers and workers into arbitration by allowing them to establish the rules of arbitration proceedings before a dispute has ever arisen. Unfortunately, forced arbitration clauses have been successful at achieving their intended purpose — undermining legal protections for individuals and small businesses, and allowing powerful corporations to take advantage of them because of greater bargaining power and resources.
Forced arbitration clauses continue to work their way into contracts and user agreements across an ever-increasing number of industries. Here are just a few examples of industries that use these clauses to their advantage: