Friday, August 1, was a really fun one for me because that day featured the workshop on labor and employment law which meant that all day long there were labor and employment law programs and that’s great for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s just to stay enmeshed in the substance of labor and employment law, but also to see my colleagues from the section. I think I’ve mentioned several times before what great comradery there is and it was really fun to be able to hang out with them and hear their research ideas and presentations. The first one was a workshop on “The Federal Arbitration Act of 2008.” The members of that panel were Margaret Moses of Loyola, Richard Reuben of University of Missouri, Stephen Ware of Kansas City and Jean Sternlight of UNLV. The panelists began with a discussion of the definition of mandatory arbitration and they tended to disagree quite frankly in terms of what’s mandatory, but they talk about a third of the standard form contracts include mandatory arbitration language typically in health care, financial services, and insurance industry and that often the consumers are unaware of the existence of this language and the majority of the members of the panel found that problematic. Under the FAA (The Federal Arbitration Act) the only way to get out of that is unconscionability. That’s the only reason to deny enforcement of that clause, so the 2000 Act is the Arbitration Fairness Act which would invalidate pre-dispute arbitration agreements in the employment area, consumer or franchise disputes, or and then there’s broad language, a dispute arising under any statute intended to protect civil rights or regulated contracts or transactions between parties on unequal bargaining power. And so the rest of the presentation was about what that language might mean, the probability of that passing given the pending change of the administration and how that language might play itself out, so that was a pretty interesting panel.

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