House Adopts Cicilline Proposal to Protect Servicemembers from Unfair Forced Arbitration

Jul 10, 2019

WASHINGTON – While considering the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives adopted Antitrust Subcommittee Chair David N. Cicilline’s (RI-01) bipartisan amendment today to protect servicemembers from being forced into arbitration, a practice that allows companies to settle disputes by choosing the arbiter and venue while denying servicemembers any right to repeal.

 

“For too long, forced arbitration has eroded fundamental protections for servicemembers by funneling claims into a private system set up by corporations to only benefit them,” Cicilline said. “I’m grateful that the House adopted this important amendment to ensure that our brave men and women in uniform are able to have their day in court and finally hold these bad actors accountable for breaking the law.”

 

Buried in the fine print of everyday contracts, forced arbitration clauses permit companies to override state and federal law to block consumers and workers from access to the courts when they believe they have been wronged. Federal courts have allowed large companies to continue using forced arbitration clauses in almost any agreement in recent years. This has led to such an increase in forced arbitration clauses in Americans’ lives that they are practically unavoidable.

 

Cicilline’s amendment ends this practice by clarifying that arbitration clauses are only enforceable if agreed to by servicemembers or their families after a dispute arises, which protects their rights under the Servicemember Civil Relief Act.