Cicilline Statement on House Vote to End Forced Arbitration

Sep 20, 2019

WASHINGTON – House Antitrust Subcommittee Chair David N. Cicilline (RI-01), who introduced the FAIR Act (H.R. 1423) to end forced arbitration with Congressman Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (GA-04), issued the following statement today after the bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives:


“Forced arbitration is a shameful, humiliating, and corrupt system that does nothing more than rob victims of harassment or corporate misconduct of their day in court,” Cicilline said. “Buried deep within the fine print of everyday contracts, this harmful practice has tilted the scales of justice entirely in favor of large corporations at the expense of hardworking men and women just trying to get ahead. I’m proud to help lead the effort to end forced arbitration, and I’m glad to see the overwhelming majority of my colleagues join us in restoring workers’ and consumers’ rights.”


Forced arbitration clauses prevent an employee or consumer from taking a company to court to resolve a dispute. Instead, victims are required to use a private system set up by the corporation. This process is often kept secret and typically requires that the parties agree to forfeit many of the rights they would have in a court of law.


Large companies have used forced arbitration proceedings to stack the deck in their favor. The company gets to pick who decides the case, as well as the structure of the proceedings. When forced arbitration is combined with non-disclosure agreements, it can effectively silence the victims of rampant corporate misconduct.


Federal courts have continued to allow forced arbitration clauses to be used in almost any agreement—including civil rights violations and incidents of workplace harassment. Companies have used these rulings as justification to include forced arbitration clauses in almost every contract, including cell phone and employment agreements.


When he became Chair of the Antitrust Subcommittee, Cicilline announced he would focus on ways that he can help workers and consumers get ahead. He held a hearing in May on the harmful impacts of forced arbitration on workers and consumers alike.


The FAIR Act now heads to the U.S. Senate for consideration.