The Arcane World of Arbitration

To sue or not to sue?

Refusing to sign the agreement
Where you are required to sign an arbitration agreement as a condition of employment or for continued employment, there is a good basis to find the agreement oppressive and nonenforceable, if and when that becomes necessary. On the other hand, few employees are usually in a position to refuse a job because of an arbitration agreement in an employment contract. If the employee has been on the job for some time, then it is clear that he or she is not in a position to give up seniority and earned benefits in order to avoid signing such an agreement.

Practical considerations
As a practical matter you probably will not be fired or laid off if you choose not to sign an arbitration agreement. You may have no reason during your employment to even use the arbitration process. You may be perfectly content with the goings on at your company and have no reason to file a complaint. There is no point in raising the issue of enforceability at the time you are asked to sign the agreement. So why raise the issue when asked to sign when there is no reason?

When my man asked if he should sign I said sure. What’s the difference? There is no immediate downside to signing the contract and there may never be one. If and when a need should arise to attack the arbitration agreement, that’s the time to raise the issues, file your case, and attack the agreement in a formal judicial forum. Send your comments to

Stephen P. Prentice is an attorney whose practice involves FAA-NTSB issues. He has an A&P certificate and is an ATP rated pilot. He worked with Western Airlines and the Allison Division of GMC in Latin America, servicing commercial and military overhaul activities and is a USAF veteran. E-mail:

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