9th Circuit Becomes Second Appeals Court to Rule That Class Action Waivers Violate NLRA

Author: Michael Cardman, XpertHR Legal Editor

August 30, 2016

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has joined its sister court in the 7th Circuit in holding that arbitration agreements that prevent employees from filing class actions violate the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and are therefore unenforceable.

"The NLRA precludes contracts that foreclose the possibility of concerted work-related legal claims," the 9th Circuit stated in Morris v. Ernst & Young, LLP. "An employer may not condition employment on the requirement that an employee sign such a contract."

The 7th Circuit issued a similar ruling earlier this year in the case Lewis v. Epic-Systems Corp. Both courts deferred to the National Labor Relations Board's ruling in D.R. Horton, Inc., in which the board held that class action waivers prevent employees from exercising their NLRA rights to join together to initiate work-related legal claims.

Rulings from the 2nd, 5th and 8th circuits have reached the opposite conclusion, setting up a split in the circuits that may be resolved by the US Supreme Court.