Job candidates who are offered positions regularly fill out paperwork as part of the hiring process. However, many do not talk about the legally binding documents with a gender discrimination attorney or employment lawyer. As such, they rarely balk when they are expected to sign a forced arbitration agreement.
As one former PayPal employee has discovered, agreeing to forced arbitration agreements can lead to problems if the workplace environment becomes hostile or discriminatory.
What Happened at PayPal
The female employee at the center of the PayPal case alleges she was overlooked for a promotion because she had young children. The promotion would have involved overseas travel, something she had done in the past for the organization. Ultimately, she was not asked to interview for the opening. The position was instead given to a male colleague she had previously supervised who also had a young child at home and who had supposedly talked about adopting another.
After this experience, the female PayPal employee filed a formal complaint in mid-2017 with the company’s human resources department. Within a few months, she documented what she believed to be retaliation for complaining. According to her reports, she repeatedly was disciplined for doing what she normally would do. By the end of 2017, PayPal fired her for what the company deemed insubordination. Interestingly, 11 days after she was let go, PayPal vested stock that she alleges would have benefited her financially.
As part of her lawsuit against PayPal, the former worker requested a jury trial. Even if she can prove her allegations, she may not get the trial she wants. When she started with PayPal, she signed a binding forced arbitration agreement. Her decision to sign the agreement is proving to be a tough hurdle to overcome.
Understanding the Role of the Forced Arbitration Agreement
Forced arbitration agreements have risen in priority in recent years, especially in tech field companies like PayPal. Not surprisingly, forced arbitration favors the company, not the worker. Yet employees regularly sign documents with forced arbitration clauses even when they understand what they are signing. To them, they assume that they will hopefully never want to sue the employer. Obviously, this can be a huge gamble.
If the employee experiences retaliation, discrimination, wrongful termination, or harassment, he or she will not be able to take the case to trial or speak publicly about what happens. Instead, the dispute will be heard in private by an arbitrator who may be less swayed by the worker’s account than a jury would be. Plus, some arbitrators request little evidence compared to the evidence that would be desired for a jury trial. Finally, arbitrated cases are usually final, meaning the employee cannot go through an appeals process.
One way some workers who have signed mandatory arbitration agreements get justice is if their claims are taken up by the Equality Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Sometimes, the EEOC will sue an employer on the employee’s behalf. This is perfectly legal because the EEOC did not sign the agreement.
Marlton Gender Discrimination Lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. Represent Clients Who Have Experienced Workplace Harassment
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) clearly states that it is unlawful for companies to discriminate against workers for any reason related to their sex, including gender identity. Therefore, employees who are denied promotions because of gender, or who are unjustly disciplined or let go because of gender expression or family decisions, have a right to fight back. If you have experienced gender-related hostility, discrimination, or harassment at work, please call the Marlton gender discrimination lawyers in our Red Bank office at 732-842-6500, our Marlton office at 856-985-9800, our Newark office at 973-878-9040, or online for a free consultation. We represent clients throughout New Jersey.