An arbitration is the presentation of a dispute to a person known as an arbitrator, who then decides who wins the dispute. Arbitration takes away an employee’s right to present his or her case to a jury. Normally, an employer who requires his employees to sign an arbitration agreement is doing this to avoid what it believes to be dangerous to it and that is the assessment of its actions by a jury of 12 ordinary citizens. The appellate courts are all very friendly toward arbitration agreements and enforce them when presented to them in a suit. This means that if a suit is filed and the parties have previously entered into an arbitration agreement, the court will send the dispute to arbitration instead of letting it proceed to trial. An arbitration is normally one individual who serves as the judge and jury and the arbitrator’s decision is final. Very few times does a court reverse an arbitrator’s decision of a case. An employer will require the employees to sign the arbitration agreement or not be hired or, if they are already an employee, they either sign or be fired. The employer usually writes in the agreement that the arbitration will be done under the rules of the American Arbitration Association AAA or some similar entity. Under their rules, the parties are limited to using AAA arbitrators and while the parties have some limited input into the selection of the arbitrator, the number of arbitrators is small. While an arbitration can sometimes be faster, it is usually more expensive than a jury trial because of the cost of the arbitrator. Also, almost as much discovery, depositions, and other preparations are done as in a jury trial. The hearing of the arbitration is less formal than a trial and the evidentiary rules are more relaxed. Once the arbitrator has heard the dispute, the arbitrator will make a ruling as to who wins and the amount of damages, if any. As I stated before, if anyone is dissatisfied with the ruling, most appeals to the court are unsuccessful. In my opinion, the lawmakers should reform the law to prevent the ability of employers to require an employee to enter into an arbitration agreement or be fired. The right to a jury trial is a Constitutional right and should not be stolen in order for an employee to keep their job. That is not a fair choice to either keep a job or give up the valuable right to a jury trial.
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