Posts Tagged ‘dispute resolution procedure’

Homebuilder Battles NLRB over Arbitration Clause

National homebuilder, D.R. Horton, Inc. is embroiled in a legal battle with the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) over whether a provision in its employment contracts requiring its employees to engage in a mandatory arbitration agreement that waived the employees’ rights to participate in class or collective actions violated the employees federally protected right to engage in “concerted activity” for their mutual aid and protection.

The dispute arose when one of the homebuilder’s superintendents filed a charge with the NLRB alleging that he and other employees were prevented from pursuing claims that they were misclassified as exempt workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act by virtue of the homebuilder’s allegedly illegal dispute resolution procedure that blocked employees from pursuing class or colletive actions in court or in arbitration.  The NLRB sustained the charge and the case was appealed all the up to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

The case was argued before the Fifth Circuit earlier this month.  The NLRB’s attorney argued that the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) gives employees the right to engage in concerted activity for their mutual aid and protection and that the homebuilder’s broadly worded arbitration policy interfered with the opportunity of employees to obtain class or collective litigation of their employment-related claims in addition to their right to assert claims in a concerted manner.  The homebuilder’s attorney argued that never before has the NLRB found that the NLRA gives employees the right to engage in class or collective litigation and that the NLRA contains “no clear congressional mandate” making the dispute resolution procedure used by the homebuilder illegal.  According to the homebuilder’s attorney, vague references to concerted activity in NLRB decisions does not demonstrate a clear congressional mandate under the NLRA that would justify the court in denying the enforcement of an otherwise lawful arbitration agreement.  A decision is awaited.

The Fifth Circuit’s rulings could have a significant impact on how builders and employers in general draft their dispute resolution provisions.

This article is authored by attorney Shannon O. Young and is intended for educational purposes and to give you general information and a general understanding of the law only, not to provide specific legal advice. Any particular questions should be directed to your legal counsel or, if you do not have one, please feel free to contact us.

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