Recent legislation and protests have brought media and legal attention to the topic of forced arbitration. The troubling issue is that many companies are including clauses in their intimidatingly long contracts which state that any complaints from consumers must be settled through arbitration, rather than in court. Arbitration exists as an alternative to a civil claim brought through a state or federal court, in order to lighten the load faced by the legal system. However, when customers have no choice in how to pursue claims, they are denied their Seventh Amendment right to a trial by jury for civil matters.
The seventh amendment of the U.S. Constitution grants Americans the right to a trial by jury if they are seeking compensation in a civil matter. However, the Federal Arbitration Act has created the opportunity to settle disputes through other means instead.
The Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) was established in 1925, granting both state and federal courts the ability to facilitate private disputes through a process called arbitration. This essentially gives legally binding power to the results of a dispute which is settled outside of court under certain guidelines. However, since this important legislation was passed, there have been a number of landmark cases that have shaped the way in which this Act is applied.
To protect the ability of both plaintiffs and defendants, the 7th Amendment was included in the Bill of Rights in the Constitution. This Amendment grants citizens that “the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.”