As we previously reported, the Supreme Court granted petitions for certiorari in three lawsuits challenging the legality of arbitration agreements that bar workers from pursuing class actions. The Court consolidated the cases, Murphy Oil USA Inc., Epic Systems Corp., and Ernst & Young LLP for oral argument to resolve a circuit split over whether arbitration agreements that prohibit employees from pursuing work-related claims as a group violate the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
On February 8, the Supreme Court stated that it will not hear argument on these cases until the 2017 term – which begins in October. The issue is of significant concern to employers, many of which see class action waivers as a way to reduce both legal exposure and expense. If enforceable, class action waivers can keep disputes with employees in arbitration and out of court. Whether such constraints on class action litigation are legal has been and remains a hotly contested issue, with the National Labor Relations Board ruling in numerous cases that class action waivers are unenforceable.