Vice News, which allows a self-identified attorney to post under the pseudonym “SovCit, Esquire,” offered no counterpoints in a Vice article bashing business: “America Is a Spiraling Corporate Contract Dystopia.”
The article offers no critical analysis of how lawsuits can decimate a business, destroy a fragile startup or bankrupt a firm.
While any good attorney should know it’s nigh impossible to fully divine someone’s motive, that didn’t stop the Vice writer from projecting thoughts onto Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch about a SCOTUS ruling on arbitration in his majority opinion in Epic Systems v. Lewis:
“It’s safe to assume Gorsuch was smirking when he wrote that line, because it manages to intentionally dodge the case’s most significant issue: employees rarely have enough leverage to meaningfully impact the terms of their contracts,” SovCit writes. “If you need a job and aren’t in great position to negotiate—much less hire a lawyer—chances are you’re going to just sign whatever deal gets put in front of you. The same reality applies to digital services millions of Americans use every day, from online shopping outlets to ride-sharing or dating apps on our phones. In other words, to participate meaningfully in modern life, you have to let corporations walk all over you.”
The Vice writer also doesn’t consider why America is one of the most robust economic players on the world stage, highly competitive in innovation and has incredibly low unemployment and high median salaries relative to the rest of the world. Vice also didn’t consider why countries like France are now undergoing labor reforms to become more like America than less.
Instead, Vice offers a monologue about our legal system:
“It has left the United States as one of only a handful of countries embracing at-will employment, which allows employers to terminate employees with or without cause (for reasons as absurd as the employee’s private sex life or the color of their clothing),” Vice continued. “It has allowed for the proliferation of non-compete provisions, which prevent employees from working in the same market as their employer once their employment ends (feel free to start a new career in another field, though!). And, as the Supreme Court put on vivid display in Epic Systems, it has allowed for employers to methodically hack at the procedural apparatus that regular people use to validate their rights by funneling all of their claims into closed-door arbitration proceedings.”
Vice also fails to report that in a consumer-driven economy it is customers who ultimately determine which companies are successful, which is why business reputation is vital. This was evidenced by the estimated $800 million drop in market value to Snapchat after a public dispute with Rihanna over an offensive ad.
But Vice offers a one-sided verdict:
“We now live in a similar moment, as corporations have successfully subverted worker and consumer plaintiff rights in nearly every conceivable arena. Absent legislation that places real limitations on the scope of the Federal Arbitration Act, the trend is likely to continue. Unfortunately, it’s reasonable to assume that just about every major corporation in America would actively oppose such legislation, and, in case you haven’t noticed, they’re writing all the rules.”