Arbitrating Hate: Why Binding Arbitration of Discrimination Claims is Appropriate for Union Members


When the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Alexander v. Gardner-Denver Co., the Court appeared to announce a clear rule that all employees have a right to bring a statutory discrimination suit in federal court. This holding also included union members who were employed under a collective bargaining agreement mandating binding arbitration. Sixteen years later, however, the Court issued a different opinion in Gilmer v. Interstate/Johnson Lane Corp., requiring a non-union employee to arbitrate any Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) claim as a result of his having signed an arbitration agreement when registering as a securities representative. While the Court in Gilmer was careful to avoid explicitly overruling Alexander, much of the reasoning found in Gilmer is at odds with the Alexander decision.
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