Can I Sue My Employer If I Signed an Arbitration Agreement?

Arbitration clauses are a common part of employment agreements in Texas. If you signed paperwork when you took a new job, there is a chance you unknowingly accepted an arbitration agreement. You might have given up your right to take your employer to court for issues such as discrimination, wage disputes, and wrongful termination. This doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that you can’t file a suit against your employer. Here’s what you need to know.

Contact a Houston arbitration clause attorney to learn more.

An Arbitration Agreement Doesn’t Prevent You from Taking Legal Action

First, understand that signing an arbitration agreement doesn’t take away your legal rights as an employee in Texas. You still have a right to a workplace that’s free from discrimination and harassment, as well as the right to fair wages.

If you face any type of employment conflict at work, such as a supervisor demoting you because of your sex or a disability, you have the right to notify the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and report what’s going on. You also have the right to pursue compensation from the employer.

An arbitration agreement simply limits the type of legal action you can take against your employer. Instead of having the option to take your employer to trial in pursuit of reimbursement, you can only defend your rights in arbitration. Arbitration is less formal than a court trial. Therefore, it is often faster and cheaper for employers, making an arbitration clause an attractive addition to employee handbooks.

During employment arbitration, employees have the opportunity (with their attorneys) to show the arbitrator evidence of the employer’s alleged wrongdoing. This evidence can include HR complaints, eyewitness accounts, and proof that the employer knew about the situation yet failed to offer a remedy. The employer will have the chance to rebut the employee’s claim with evidence of his/her own. Then, the arbitrator will make the final decision. Generally, employees cannot appeal the arbitration decisions.

Arbitration Doesn’t Include a Trial by Jury

During arbitration, you, your employer, your respective attorneys, and a third-party arbitrator will review the dispute and evidence at hand. The arbitrator will act as the judge, determining the outcome of the arbitration instead of a jury. This can be a significant difference since, in most cases, juries are more sympathetic toward employees. Giving up your right to a trial by jury could ultimately affect the results of your case.

If you signed an arbitration clause, the legal process will fulfill the terms of the clause. It’s important to read what you’re signing. Otherwise, you could be giving up significant legal rights without realizing what you’re doing. An employer can limit your legal options in many different ways through a wordy arbitration clause. Have an attorney review your employment documents before you sign to fully understand what rights you may be surrendering.

Arbitration Clauses Are Legally Binding

The instant you put your signature on an employment document that includes an arbitration agreement, you lose your right to take your employer to trial – even if that employer discriminates against you or wrongfully terminates you down the road. Consider this before signing. For the most part, arbitration agreements are legally binding for both employer and employee. Unless you refused to sign or simply never turned in the paperwork, you will have to abide by the rules of an arbitration clause.

Remember, you always have the option to refuse to sign off on an arbitration agreement. You may have to take steps to opt-out of this type of clause. Prepare, however, for the employer to refuse to hire you or terminate your employment. It is an employer’s right not to hire someone who won’t sign an arbitration agreement. An employment lawyer in Houston can help you find out if you signed an arbitration agreement, as well as what this might mean for your legal options during a conflict.

If you have more questions concerning arbitration clauses, contact the Houston personal injury attorneys at Attorney Brian White and Associate now. We are standing by to help.