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January 17, 2019

Workers, weaker apart as Supreme Court lets bosses divide and conquer

May 26, 2018
Gorsuch gets court to side against the little guy. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

In a searing setback for workers across America, the Supreme Court Monday said it’s legal for employers to bar workers from banding together to taking wage and hour complaints and other problems to court, in class actions.

Instead, companies can make employees go, one by one, through mandatory arbitration — where employers structurally have the upper hand.

Writing the court’s majority opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch reasoned that workers entered these agreements knowingly and voluntarily. Someone should tell him that not every job applicant gets to have a seat held open for his dream position. Working stiffs take what they can get.

Which means, for too many, sucking up complaints even when an employer may have broken the law for a swath of employees — for instance, improperly denying overtime, as one of the Supreme Court plaintiffs alleged.

Unfair? You bet it is.

As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg pointed out in her dissent, “For workers striving to gain from their employers decent terms and conditions of employment, there is strength in numbers. A single employee, Congress understood, is disarmed in dealing with an employer.”

The Supreme Court just gave its legal blessing to a gross imbalance of economic power.

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