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What is an arbitration agreement?

Arbitration is a legal process that involves taking a grievance before a third party to resolve it, instead of filing a lawsuit that would go before a judge and jury. The third party, known as an arbitrator, is chosen by the parties involved, and in most cases their decision cannot be appealed.

When an employer asks you to sign an arbitration agreement, that means that they will require you to go through this process for any grievances you have with the company instead of going to court. Many employers may ask new employees to sign such an agreement to lower the risk of litigation in the event that the relationship goes sour. But what if you don't think signing such an agreement is in your best interests?

The courts have found that it's perfectly legal for an employer to refuse to hire a potential employee who refuses to sign the arbitration agreement. You can also be fired if you have already been hired and you are asked to sign such an agreement but refuse.

If you don't want to sign, but you want to keep your job, you may be able to negotiate a few of the terms of the agreement to make it more balanced. You can ask for the right to choose the arbitrator, and the right to know about their background and any ties they have with your employer, you can ask that your employer agree to shoulder the costs of the process, and you can ask for the right to be represented by an attorney during the process.

Arbitration agreements aren't all bad. They are less formal than going to court for a lawsuit, and they can resolve problems faster and easier than you can in court. Just make sure you don't sign anything from your employer without reading it first, and make sure anything you do sign is in your best interests.

If you have been the target of workplace harassment, discrimination or unfair termination, Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn, L.C. represents clients in federal court and before the EEOC, MSPB and in state and union grievance hearings.

Our attorneys have more than 35 years dedicated to giving clients the attention, advice, support and empowerment they need to effectively meet their goals. We are committed to the principle that all persons shall have equal justice under the law. Call Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn, L.C. at 304.523.8451 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.

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