Caldwell & Kearns, P.C.
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Protect yourself when signing an employment arbitration agreement

You aced your final interview, and your future employer has just offered you your dream job. Exciting news! You’re asked to come into the office to sign some pre-employment paperwork. But embedded in the stack is a document that gives you pause: an employment arbitration agreement.

When you sign an arbitration agreement for your job, you agree not to sue your employer for problems you experience in connection with your work. Instead, any issue must be handled through arbitration.

Arbitration agreements are becoming an increasingly popular prerequisite of any job offer. It is estimated that over one-third of non-union workers in the U.S. have been forced to sign an employment arbitration agreement. If you refuse to sign an arbitration agreement, an employer can rescind their offer of employment, or, if you are already employed, you could be fired.

Now, you’re not out to make trouble. You may not have active ambitions of suing your company for all it’s worth. But in the event of foul play, you probably aren’t eager to give up your rights to a trial, either. What are your options for meeting your employer half way?

One solution is to treat the arbitration agreement like any other aspect of your employment offer: negotiate. Draw up your own stipulations to be added to the arbitration agreement. Include a caveat saying that you and your employer will take equal part in choosing an arbitrator, and that the arbitrator must divulge any relevant information that would indicate bias towards one party. Require that arbitration be paid for entirely by the employer. Add a condition guaranteeing that any compensation or other remedies you would have received in a lawsuit will be available to you in arbitration. Finally, ensure that you have the right to an attorney.

Taking proactive steps to protect your rights when signing an arbitration agreement can prove to be extremely beneficial if you go through arbitration further down the line.

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Caldwell & Kearns, P.C.
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Harrisburg, PA 17110-1533

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