Arbitration of Bias Claims

Unionized employers have long been eager to bring their employees' statutory discrimination claims within the ambit of mandatory labor arbitration. But the U.S. Supreme Court's 30-year-old decision in Alexander v. Gardner-Denver Co., 415 U.S. 36 (1974), has long been understood as the breakwater against any requirement that unionized employees bring their federal discrimination claims to arbitration under their labor agreements, even if those agreements themselves ban discrimination on the basis of race, sex, ethnicity or other protected classification. While the high court's jurisprudence has for almost 20 years staunchly supported arbitration of statutory discrimination complaints if so required by individual employment agreements, labor agreements have been thought by most courts to be a different kettle of fish.


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