Supreme Court to review implications of Epic workplace arbitration case 

The U.S. Supreme Court has granted a request for it to review a labor violations lawsuit that seeks to understand the effects of a 2018 workplace arbitration case involving Verona, Wis.-based EHR vendor Epic, according to recent court documents. 

Nine details: 

1. In May 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis that arbitration agreements can legally bar employees from pursuing class-action lawsuits. 

2. In the new case  —  Viking River Cruises Inc. v. Moriana  —  the court will determine whether its 2018 ruling in Epic's case overruled the California Supreme Court's 2014 decision in a separate case, according to a Dec. 20 JD Supra report. The 2014 case decided that arbitration agreements that waive the right to bring PAGE representative actions are unenforceable. 

3. PAGA is short for the labor code Private Attorneys General Act, which authorizes employees in California to file lawsuits on behalf of themselves, other employees or the state for labor code violations.

4. The court will now decide whether employers can limit PAGA actions through employment arbitration agreements and representative action waivers, similar to how employers can limit class actions through class-action waivers, JD Supra reported. Epic declined Becker's request for a comment. 

5. Epic's case, which was argued in 2017, was consolidated with two others before the Supreme Court: National Labor Relations Board v. Murphy Oil USA and Ernst & Young LLP v. Morris. Epic's case involved Jacob Lewis, a former technical writer at the EHR company who alleged Epic violated federal and state law by neglecting to pay him and other temporary workers overtime. 

6. The court found that Epic employees waived their right to participate in any class, collective or representative proceeding when they signed an employment agreement designating that wages and working hours could only be discussed through individual arbitration. 

7. Epic and the other two co-petitioners claimed their individual arbitration contracts do not violate the 1935 National Labor Relations Act and are legal under the federal Arbitration Act. The majority of the Supreme Court agreed. 

8. The court's ruling established that companies have the right to resolve labor and wage disputes individually and can use arbitration clauses to prevent employees from joining together in class-action lawsuits against their employer. 

9. The new case will determine whether the decision reached in Epic's case applies to waivers of claims brought under PAGA.

 

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