House Resolution 1423, Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act
The House of Representatives passed H.R.1423, the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act (FAIR Act) which now sits in the Senate awaiting passage. This bill bans forced arbitration in consumer, worker, antitrust and civil rights contexts. Forced arbitration clauses are the take-it-or-leave-it fine print that appears in the agreements consumers make when signing up for credit cards, or agree to the terms of service when using the services from companies like, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Walmart. Failure to sign the agreement, and your ability to access a particular service is denied. In arbitration cases there is no judge or jury and the right to appeal is limited. These provisions also inhibit the use of class-action suits. Arbitration is done in secret ensuring that regulators, the media, and the public never learn about issues at stake. Arbitrators do not have to follow case law and have an incentive to side with the firm that hires them. According to the Economic Policy Institute, in arbitration, financial firms win 91 percent of the cases, with consumers paying the company, on average, $7,725. Public Citizen, a policy advocacy group, has found that arbitration clauses have gone from being the exception to the rule to being almost impossible to avoid. When passed by the Senate, the FAIR Act will give consumers the choice of agreeing to arbitration or reserving the right to use the judicial system to adjudicate disputes. With this bill awaiting a vote in the Senate, Arkansas voters would be well served to contact Senators Tom Cotton or John Boozman, to encourage them to vote in favor of this measure.