Arbitration Agreement: Employers Must Provide Proof, Don’t Just Say It Exists

Many employers require employees to sign arbitration agreements which require wage disputes to be brought in arbitration instead of in court. Typically, these agreements also prohibit employees from banding together to bring their claims on a class action or collective action basis. Most often, these agreements are presented as part of voluminous onboarding paperwork and are signed by employees who do not realize they have signing them or understand the rights they are giving up. Many employees who come to us for help are surprised to learn that their employers say they signed an arbitration agreement and are virtually certain that they never saw it and never signed it.

Though the trend in the law currently favors arbitration, an arbitration agreement is just like any other contract, meaning that it cannot be enforced unless the parties actually agreed to it. Many employees and even employment lawyers take employers at face value when the employer says the employee signed the agreement, even though the employee has no recollection whatsoever of having signed. Under the law, however, an employer who wants to enforce an arbitration agreement has the burden to prove that the employee agreed to arbitration. At Shavitz Law Group, we do not simply take the employer’s word for it, but rather, our attorneys demand that employers PROVE that a valid arbitration agreement exists. This is important because employers may not have a copy of the agreement due to sloppy recordkeeping, may not be able to prove the authenticity of an electronic acknowledgment, and because unscrupulous employers have been known to forge these agreements. In addition, the arbitration agreement must be reviewed carefully as there are numerous legal and factual defenses to arbitration which may be raised. We will evaluate whether your claim must be brought in arbitration and will challenge employers who do not meet their burden of proof.

Finally, if there is a valid agreement to arbitrate, don’t assume that is the death knell of your case. Shavitz Law Group routinely represents employees in arbitration proceedings, and employers who have violated the law as to many employees often quickly realize that the expenses and burdens associated with defending multiple arbitrations can far exceed the cost to defend class action claims in court. There are several recent examples of large companies facing numerous arbitrations having to pay millions of dollars just to get in the door of arbitration forums, and thereafter asking to be let out of the very agreements they drafted and required their employees to sign.
If you were denied wages and signed an arbitration agreement or are unsure whether you signed one, please contact us at (800) 616-4000 for a free consultation.


Gregg Shavitz, Shavitz Law Group, 951 Yamato Rd Ste 285, Boca Raton, FL and 800 3rd Ave, Suite 2800, New York, NY. Lawyers licensed in states including FL, NY, NJ, and TX. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based on advertisements alone.
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