In early May, bills were introduced in the House and Senate , attempting to breathe new life into the concept of a federal Arbitration Fairness Act (“AFA”). The bills would amend the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) by adding a new chapter invalidating predispute arbitration agreements (“PDAAs”) for consumer, investor, employment, or civil rights claims. The proposed legislation is similar to prior failed efforts to similarly amend the FAA going back at least to 2005.
This article analyzes the AFA of 2013 and concludes that, while a well- intended effort to address a legitimate concern – PDAAs imposed via an adhesion contract by dominant parties on weaker parties like consumers and employees – it in fact is a potentially dangerous overreaction that could end up harming those it intends to protect. The article closes with the author’s recommendation for a better way to address these concerns.