The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit of Appeals ruled last Wednesday that employers can require workers to resolve wage disputes through individual arbitration instead of class actions, and that the National Labor Relations Act does not invalidate individual arbitration clauses in labor agreements.
It also found the Fair Labor Standards Act also does not get in the way of individual arbitration clauses.
The case in question involves a class-action lawsuit filed against Kelly Services Inc. by individuals working through a virtual call center. Some 1,600 workers joined the lawsuit; however, about half the workers had signed individual arbitration agreements, according to court records.
Workers had claimed they were short-changed for time spent logging into Kelly’s network, logging out and fixing technical problems. The suit, Jonathan Gaffers v. Kelly Services Inc., seeks back pay. With the Circuit’s decision, the case goes back to district court.
The Gaffers decision follows a 5-4 ruling by the US Supreme Court in May that companies could prevent class-action lawsuits by requiring workers to sign individual arbitration agreements.
Attorneys from Ballard Spahr wrote in The National Law Review that this ruling signals continued expansion of the Supreme Court’s May ruling.