Meredith Kaufman


The US Supreme Court issued a highly anticipated decision on May 21, 2018 in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, holding that class action waivers in arbitration agreements are fully enforceable, notwithstanding the right to engage in concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). With a 5-4 opinion authored by Justice Neil Gorsuch, an ideologically divided Supreme Court resolved a circuit court split in favor of class and collective action waivers, allowing employers to require workers to arbitrate claims on an individual rather than group basis. Although employers now have a tool to effectively eliminate most employment class actions through the use of arbitration agreements, several other important nuances remain to be considered before rolling out an arbitration program. But the Supreme Court’s decision is nevertheless a clear win for employers seeking to avoid the expense and disruption of class litigation. And the Court’s broad opinion lends support to the enforcement of employment arbitration agreements in other contexts, notwithstanding state laws that might otherwise impede arbitration.