With forced arbitration clauses appearing everywhere in consumer contracts, from credit card companies to nursing homes – could it also be in your workplace? You bet.
Employers are including forced arbitration clauses into employment contracts more and more. This means you are signing away your rights to bring your employer to court for certain issues. So if you get seriously injured at work, and you signed a forced arbitration clause, what does that mean for your workers’ compensation case?
Thankfully, most states, notably, Washington, D.C., don’t allow for arbitration or settlement of workers compensation claims outside of the workers compensation system. Any settlement of a workers compensation claim has to be approved by the D.C. Office of Workers Compensation, or the Virginia or Maryland Workers Compensation commission depending on where the work injury occurred and was filed.
And here’s a quick tip – if you were working in D.C. or hurt in the District, Do Not file your workers comp claim in Virginia or Maryland without talking to a lawyer – that decision could cost you hundreds of dollars each week.
You might think arbitration is faster and cheaper, but it’s not. Unlike an unbiased Judge in a court, professional arbitrators make a living from these employers bringing cases to them. So where do you think their interests lie? In pleasing employers so they’ll come back to that particular arbitrator in the future and refer more business to him or her.
Furthermore, arbitration is costly. You’re held financially responsible for the pricey filing fees and half of the arbitrator’s hourly fees when you pursue arbitration. However, some workers’ compensation attorneys work on contingency – we certainly do. This means that you don’t have to pay us until we get you a settlement.
And you can still use a mediator to help settle your difficult workers compensation case – we both use and serve as mediators occasionally if need be.
As always, be careful what you sign. If you have a question about something limiting your workers compensation rights, just give us a call or take a minute to order a copy of Protect Your Rights: The Ultimate Guide to D.C. Workers’ Compensation.