For the majority of our collective legal memory, arbitration agreements – including those presented to prospective or current employees – have been under attack by both the plaintiff’s bar and, through its rulings, our court system. Legal terms like “contract of adhesion” and “unconscionability” are often thrown about to scare employers (and their lawyers) away from the thought of using arbitration agreements in the workplace. However, in a decision recently handed down by the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, the forbidden words of “adhesion” and “unconscionability” may not be enough to prevent the use of arbitration agreements. This particular ruling will be of interest to employers seeking to steer clear of the national trend of increased (and expensive) class action wage and hour litigation.
The National Labor Relations Board enforces one of the oldest laws in the United States – the National Labor Relations Act – and regulates a labor-relations world that is deep-rooted in tradition, history and precedent. As recent developments at the Board level have shown, however, even an old dog can learn a few new tricks.
Recently, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia took occasion to hand down an important decision reminding employees in the state that if they are going to sue their employer for “disparate treatment” discrimination, they must demonstrate that a similarly situated person in a non-protected group was actually treated differently.