‘Scared to Death’ by Arbitration: Companies Drowning in Their Own System

from NYTs Teel Lidow couldn’t quite believe the numbers. Over the past few years, the nation’s largest telecom companies, like Comcast and AT&T, have had a combined 330 million customers. Yet annually an average of just 30 people took the companies to arbitration, the forum where millions of Americans are forced to hash out legal disputes with corporations. Mr. Lidow, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur with a law degree, figured there had to be more people upset with their cable companies. He was right. Within a few months, Mr. Lidow found more than 1,000 people interested in filing arbitration claims against […]

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This Is What Happens When You Try to Sue Your Boss

from Bloomberg The proof that the fight between Alex Beigelman and UBS had descended into absurdity was the dispute over the granola bar. It was the fifth day of arbitration hearings, and a lawyer for UBS, the financial conglomerate where Beigelman had worked, seemed to be having some windpipe trouble. “I tried to eat a Kind bar really quickly,” the bank lawyer said. “And I have all of that granola crunchy stuff stuck in my throat.” “TMI,” answered Linda Friedman, the civil rights attorney who was representing Beigelman. “I’m sorry, Linda, if you think that’s too much information,” the bank […]

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In Religious Arbitration, Scripture Is the Rule of Law

from NYTs A few months before he took a toxic mix of drugs and died on a stranger’s couch, Nicklaus Ellison wrote a letter to his little sister. He asked for Jolly Ranchers, Starburst and Silly Bandz bracelets, some of the treats permitted at the substance abuse program he attended in Florida. Then, almost as an aside, Mr. Ellison wrote about how the Christian-run program that was supposed to cure his drug and alcohol problem had instead “de-gayed” him. “God makes all things new,” Mr. Ellison wrote in bright green ink. “The weirdest thing is how do I come out […]

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In Arbitration, a ‘Privatization of the Justice System’

from NYTs Deborah L. Pierce, an emergency room doctor in Philadelphia, was optimistic when she brought a sex discrimination claim against the medical group that had dismissed her. Respected by colleagues, she said she had a stack of glowing evaluations and evidence that the practice had a pattern of denying women partnerships. She began to worry, though, once she was blocked from court and forced into private arbitration. Presiding over the case was not a judge but a corporate lawyer, Vasilios J. Kalogredis, who also handled arbitrations. When Ms. Pierce showed up one day for a hearing, she said she […]

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Arbitration Everywhere, Stacking the Deck of Justice

from NYTs On Page 5 of a credit card contract used by American Express, beneath an explainer on interest rates and late fees, past the details about annual membership, is a clause that most customers probably miss. If cardholders have a problem with their account, American Express explains, the company “may elect to resolve any claim by individual arbitration.” Those nine words are at the center of a far-reaching power play orchestrated by American corporations, an investigation by The New York Times has found. By inserting individual arbitration clauses into a soaring number of consumer and employment contracts, companies like […]

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