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Fed contractors: Review arbitration agreements

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Does your organization have more than $1 million in federal contracts? If so, you may have to change any arbitration agreements you have in place covering certain claims.

That’s because of an executive order that President Obama issued in 2014. The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order banned pre-injury agreements to arbitrate workplace injury claims for federal contractors.

Covered contractors must agree that the decision to arbitrate sexual assault or harassment claims may only be made with the voluntary consent of employees after such disputes arise.

In other words, predispute arbitration agreements won’t be allowed.

Recent case: When Barbara began teaching GED classes, she signed an arbitration agreement. She reported to the police that she was sexually assaulted at work. Then, she claimed she was fired for reporting the assault. She sued.

The employer asked the court to send the case to arbitration. Bar­bara’s attorneys cited the executive order banning pre-injury arbitration agreements.

But the court said her case could go to arbitration because the executive order wasn’t yet in effect when the suit was filed. (Fellows v. Pittsburgh Job Corps., No. 2:16-CV-0718WD PA, 2016)

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