Accuracy in Media

No one had anything good to say about the Supreme Court ruling Monday, according to the Washington Post.

The Supreme Court ruled that companies can require workers to settle employment disputes through individual arbitration rather than class-action lawsuits.

“The court’s conservative majority said that the 5-to-4 ruling was a logical reading of federal law, and Congress’s preference for using arbitration to avoid costly and time-consuming litigation,” Robert Barnes of the Post wrote.

“But the decision, involving a wage dispute, was roundly criticized on the left, and advocates said it could make it harder to press other workplace complaints such as discrimination and sexual harassment.”

Before Barnes reported the case’s particulars, he wrote on how the Obama administration had backed workers in the dispute, and the Trump administration had reversed course and backed employers.

He also noted Gorsuch wrote the decision and that it is “far more likely that the 5-to-4 decision would have gone the other way if President Barack Obama’s nominee to the court, Judge Merrick Garland, had been confirmed.”

The story’s first quote comes not from a justice or Supreme Court expert but from Fatima Goss Graves, president and chief executive of the National Women’s Law Center.

“Employees may now be forced behind closed doors into an individual, costly – and often secret – arbitration process,” she said. “This will stack the deck in favor of the employer.”

Barnes quoted one paragraph from the majority decision, written by the Court’s newest justice, Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch.

“As a matter of policy these questions are surely debatable,” Gorsuch wrote. “But as a matter of law, the answer is clear. In the Federal Arbitration Act, Congress has instructed federal courts to enforce arbitration agreements according to their terms – including terms providing for individualized proceedings.”

That quote appears in the ninth paragraph of a 31-paragraph story. Nearly all of the remaining paragraphs are devoted to explaining the reasoning behind Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent, the fury with which she read part of it from the bench and the fact she wore “the collar she has said she favors when delivering a meaningful dissent.”

Ginsburg’s dissent focused on what she saw as the unfairness of the law rather than disputing Gorsuch’s interpretation of the text.

“The court today holds enforceable these arm-twisted, take-it-or-leave-it contracts – including the provisions requiring employees to litigate wage and hours claims only one-by-one,” she said. “Federal labor law does not countenance such isolation of employees.”

The decision would spur greed by lawyers, according to the Post.

“Hours after the decision, one law firm, Ogletree Deakins, announced an ‘automated tool that quickly prepares custom arbitration agreements with class action waivers based on employers’ requirements and preferences.”

The Post then further reported on Ginsburg’s dissent.

“As I see it, in relatively recent years, the court’s Arbitration Act decisions have taken many wrong turns,” Ginsburg wrote. “Yet, even accepting the court’s decisions as they are, nothing compels the destructive result the court reaches today.

“Suits to enforce workplace rights ‘fit comfortably’ under the National Labor Relations Act promises.”

Without them, the Post continued, “the ‘inevitable result’ of the decision ‘will be the under-enforcement of federal and state statutes designed to advance the well-being of vulnerable workers,’ she wrote.”

Barnes closed: “While the decision was largely supported by the business community, some Democrats in Congress said the ruling was a call for action.”

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