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Volume XI, Number 127

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NLRB Steps Up Enforcement Against Class Action Waivers

Many companies have mandatory arbitration agreements with their employees. Those agreements often contain class and collective action waivers, meaning employees must bring their claims individually. In a recent decision against Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., regarding just such an agreement, an administrative law judge (ALJ) under the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) once again ruled that such waivers violated the National Labor Relations Act, which protects “concerted activity” on behalf of employees to promote their mutual aid and benefit.

However, the ALJ went further in this opinion than the NLRB has previously ruled. First, the ALJ ruled that the Federal Arbitration Act (which many federal courts have invoked to uphold such class action waivers in mandatory arbitration agreements) is inapplicable, stating the mandatory arbitration agreement is not a “transaction that affects commerce,” a requirement for coverage under the FAA. Second, and even more significant for employers, the ALJ (1) recommended that Hobby Lobby notify the federal district courts where it had previously enforced it arbitration agreement that it would be rescinding or revising its unlawful mandatory arbitration agreement; and (2) ordered the company to reimburse the plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees and litigation expenses.

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© 2021 BARNES & THORNBURG LLPNational Law Review, Volume V, Number 327
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Kenneth J. Yerkes Employment lawyer Barnes Thornburg
Partner

Chair of the firm’s Labor and Employment Department for two decades, Ken Yerkes has spent over 30 years successfully fighting for his clients' rights and business objectives at the bargaining table, in arbitration and federal and state court, as well as in plants across the country through proactive training, counseling and union avoidance campaigns.

Ken's ability to transform complex scenarios into workable strategies has earned him not only his clients' trust, but also acclaim as one of the country’s recognized leaders in labor and employment law. He is a fellow...

317-231-7513
John Koenig, Barnes Thornburg Law Firm, Atlanta and Indianapolis, Labor and Employment Law Attorney
Partner

John T.L. Koenig is a partner in the Labor & Employment Department of Barnes & Thornburg LLP. He maintains a national, full-service practice representing management exclusively in all aspects of labor and employment law.

Traditional Labor

Mr. Koenig represents companies in the grievance and arbitration process, collective bargaining, strike preparation, union organizing and election matters, and in unfair labor practice and representational cases before the NLRB. He frequently trains supervisors on effective and...

404-264-4018
David B. Ritter Barnes Thornburg Law Firm Labor and Employment Law Attorney Chicago
Partner

David B. Ritter is a partner in the Chicago office of Barnes & Thornburg LLP. He is a member of the firm’s Labor & Employment Law Department and co-chairs the Logistics and Transportation Practice Group. He represents management nationwide in virtually all areas of labor and employment law, including employment discrimination and harassment claims, wage and hour disputes, non-compete, trade secret and restrictive covenants and employment torts.

With nearly 30 years of experience representing public and private companies, Mr. Ritter has...

312-214-4862
William A. Nolan Labor and Employment Law Attorney Barnes Thornburg Law Firm Columbus
Partner

William A. Nolan serves as the Managing Partner of Barnes & Thornburg LLP’s Columbus, Ohio, office, which he opened in 2009. He is a member of the firm’s Labor and Employment Law Department. Bill has extensive experience as a litigator, trial lawyer and counselor. His practice includes a broad range of issues that organizations face in our rapidly changing competitive, legal and workplace environments. In short, he works to help management structure organizations, practices and relationships to proactively minimize the business disruption of disputes, and to help clients prevail when...

614-628-1401
Mark Kittaka, Barnes Thornburg Law Firm, Fort Wayne and Columbus, Labor and Employment Law Attorney
Partner

Mark S. Kittaka is a partner and the administrator of the Labor and Employment Law Department of Barnes & Thornburg LLP’s Fort Wayne, Indiana office. Mr. Kittaka’s practice covers all areas of labor and employment law including federal and state litigation concerning discriminatory practices and retaliation claims, including, but not limited to: Title VII race, sex, color, and religious discrimination claims; the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (disability discrimination, reasonable accommodation, interactive process); Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA); the Family and...

260-425-4616
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