A recent decision from National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge Mary Miller Cracraft ruled that Jack in the Box Inc’s., arbitration agreement violates the rights of workers to seek a class action lawsuit. Before the ruling, Jack in the Box employees had to sign an agreement to forgo participation in collective actions or investigate unfair labor practices. Instead the employees would just meet with Jack in the Box officials and discuss their termination. Cracraft said the arbitration agreement violated workers’ rights.
“I find that by requiring employees to act individually by precluding them from participating in collective and class arbitration or litigation, the arbitration agreement interferes with the core substantive workers’ Section 7 right: the ability to act in concert in support of one another,” the judge wrote in the ruling. “Thus, respondent has engaged in unfair labor practices affecting commerce.”
The ruling was for an unfair labor practice concerning Jack in the Box’s web-based “Dispute Resolution Agreement” which was filed in January by Dana Ocampo. Cracraft went on to clarify the ruling.
“The arbitration agreement does not specifically prohibit access to the NLRB,” she wrote. “Rather, the general counsel claims that the language of the arbitration Agreement is so broad and confusing that employees would reasonably conclude that they are precluded from filing unfair labor practice charges with the board.”
Brian Luscomb, a spokesperson for Jack in the Box, said they plan on appealing the recent decision.
“We believe the decision of the administrative law judge that arbitration agreements violate Section 7 of the Act is wrongly decided, as virtually all federal courts that have examined this issue have concluded,” said in a statement.
The ruling is intended to help employees, lawyer Jeff Bosley noted at Law360.com. He explained that if the brands give employees an “opt-out” selection and note that arbitration is voluntary, they wouldn’t have to deal with any infractions. And easing on the confidentiality aspects of these agreements would help the situation as well.