Sunday, April 19, 2009

emails to my US Congress representatives

South Carolina

Joe Wilson, US House of Representatives
Linsay Graham, US Senate
Jim DeMint, US Senate

I am very concerned about the lack of accountability for companies who harm employees and consumers.

I’ve learned that one of the devices being used by companies to avoid accountability is a forced arbitration – a mandatory binding arbitration clause that is often buried in the fine print of terms of agreement and contracts. Forced arbitration requires both sides to submit any future disputes to binding arbitration as a condition of having a job or buying a product or service. I am troubled that even if you refuse to sign a contract but show up for work or use a product or service, you can lose the option of going to court. People who have been harmed by discrimination, negligence, defective products or scams should always have the right to a judge and jury.

Forced arbitration is being written into more and more contracts and terms of agreement every day, including those for employment, insurance, home-building, car loans and leases, credit cards, retirement accounts, investment accounts, and nursing facilities, to name a few.

Thankfully, there is already legislation moving through Congress to put an end to forced arbitration. The Arbitration Fairness Act, introduced in the House by Rep. Hank Johnson and several cosponsors (H.R. 1020) and soon to be introduced by Sen. Feingold in the Senate, would make mandatory binding arbitration unenforceable in civil rights, employment, consumer, and franchise disputes, but would not eliminate voluntary arbitration agreed to after a dispute arises.

I strongly support this legislation to end the practice of forcing employees and consumers to sign away their rights to legal protections. This practice undermines several important laws which were enacted to protect consumers and employees. We need companies to stop avoiding responsibility for their actions.

I urge you to cosponsor and work to enact the Arbitration Fairness Act to protect the rights of employees and consumers. Thank you for listening to a constituent, and I look forward to your reply.

Ray Koenig
Bluffton, SC 29909

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