CNN reports that when one law student got a job offer from a prestigious California law firm in Silicon Valley, she was asked to sign some unusual documents. This included signing over her right to participate in a class action lawsuit against her employer. She also signed a non-disclosure agreement. Believing she did not have room to bargain as a new graduate, she did not at first raise any objections.
After a few months, she started to think back to these agreements, especially in light of the #MeToo movement and what that could mean if she were ever a victim. Her only option in that instance would be to pursue reparations through arbitration in a private setting. While often faster and cheaper for both sides, it nonetheless helps to silence victims and keeps wrongdoings out of the news.
The U.S. Supreme Court decided that companies have the right to enforce clauses like these in an employment contract. However, the law is not the only compelling force you can use to move companies to act in your favor, especially when the effort is collective rather than from an individual.
A Harvard Lecturer soon joined the students on social media to shed light on these practices used by law firms. This led to intense criticism. The law firms then decided to protect their own reputation by publicly admitting fault and vowing to disband the clause. Following this, students at some of the top universities in the country set up petitions and asked career counselling offices to get involved.
So, can you fight back against mandatory work agreements? In a court room, maybe not. This may violate your contract, which may lead to repercussions. However, by getting the right people involved, you might just be able to inspire real change.
This article provides information on mandatory worker agreements. It should not be misconstrued as or used in place of legal advice.