Oregon Employment Arbitration Agreements: What You Need to Know
Employment arbitration agreements have become increasingly common among companies and employees alike. These agreements require that any disputes or legal claims between an employer and employee be settled through an arbitration process, rather than in a court of law. While arbitration can be a beneficial way to resolve disputes, it’s important to understand the specifics of these agreements, especially in a state like Oregon.
Oregon’s Arbitration Fairness Act
In 2019, Oregon signed into law the Arbitration Fairness Act (AFA), which greatly impacts employment arbitration agreements in the state. The AFA has several provisions aimed at protecting employee rights in the arbitration process, including:
1. The right to opt-out of an arbitration agreement within 30 days of signing it.
2. Requirements for arbitrators to disclose any potential conflicts of interest.
3. The ability for employees to bring claims as a group, rather than individually.
4. A prohibition on certain types of arbitration agreements, such as those with mandatory non-disclosure clauses or that waive substantive rights.
Importantly, the AFA applies to all arbitration agreements entered into after October 1, 2019, regardless of whether an employee is represented by a union or not.
Pros and Cons of Employment Arbitration Agreements
Employment arbitration agreements can have both advantages and disadvantages for employees. On the one hand, arbitration can be a quicker and less expensive way to resolve disputes than traditional court proceedings. It can also be a more private process, which can be beneficial for maintaining confidentiality.
On the other hand, employees may feel they are at a disadvantage in arbitration, as the process tends to favor employers. Additionally, arbitration agreements often require employees to waive their right to pursue legal action in court, which can limit their options for seeking justice. It’s essential to carefully read and consider the terms of an arbitration agreement before signing it.
Tips for Employees
If you’re presented with an employment arbitration agreement, here are some tips to keep in mind:
1. Read the agreement carefully. Make sure you understand all of the terms and provisions before signing.
2. Consider seeking legal advice. A lawyer can help you understand your rights and advise you on whether or not to sign the agreement.
3. Don’t be afraid to negotiate. You may be able to negotiate certain terms of the agreement, such as the choice of arbitrator or the ability to bring claims as a group.
4. Keep a copy of the agreement. Make sure you have a copy of the signed agreement for your records.
Employment arbitration agreements can have significant impacts on employees’ legal rights and options for seeking justice. In Oregon, the Arbitration Fairness Act provides additional protections for employees, but it’s still essential to carefully consider the terms of any arbitration agreement before signing. By reading the agreement carefully, seeking legal advice, and negotiating where possible, employees can better protect themselves and their rights.