Pyett, et al. v. Pennsylvania Building Company, et al.

Enforceability of Mandatory Arbitration Provisions in Collective Bargaining Agreements

U.S. Chamber's Position: 

NCLC filed twice in this case. This page summarizes NCLC's filing before the Second Circuit. NCLC also filed before the Supreme Court in 14 Penn Plaza, LLC, et al. v. Pyett, et al.

NCLC urged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to enforce a mandatory arbitration provisions in agreements between employers and employees. In this case, through their union, night lobby watchmen employed by a maintenance and security contractor sued the owner of a New York office building for age discrimination after the contractor re-assigned the employees to work as porters and janitors. The company sought to compel arbitration of the claims per a provision in the collective bargaining agreement. In its brief, NCLC argued that bargained-for arbitration agreements for resolving disputes avoid the unnecessary costs, distractions, delays and strategic behaviors characteristic of the civil litigation process. NCLC also argued that the U.S. Supreme Court has come to share a similar diagnosis of the poor institutional fit between employment disputes and the court system, and has signaled a receptivity to enforcing predispute arbitration agreements between employers and employees. NCLC also pointed to research showing that in-house processes for resolving disputes have been found to do a good, if not a better, job than the courts in providing an accessible, prompt mode of redress for many employment disputes.

Case Outcome: 

The Second Circuit affirmed a district court's decision that mandatory arbitration clauses in collective bargaining agreements are unenforceable if they waive the rights of covered workers to a judicial forum for federal statutory causes of action.

Procedural History: 

Amicus brief filed 10/2/06. Oral argument held 6/27/07. Lower court decision affirmed 8/1/07.