The U.S. Supreme Court will hear an appeal by Epic Systems, which is fighting claims that its policy requiring employees to submit labor disputes to individual arbitration violates federal labor laws.
In September, the electronic health records systems developer asked the court to hear and toss out a Seventh Circuit decision that found its policy violated federal labor law affording workers the right to collective action, even without a union.
The high court granted Epic's petition for certiorari, as well as agreed to hear appeals involving similar workers' disputes with Murphy Oil USA, a gas station chain operator, and Ernst & Young, a major accounting and consulting firm, according to the Wisconsin Journal.
Last May, a federal appeals court upheld the ruling of a Wisconsin trial court against Epic, which is based in Verona, Wis.
Writing for a three-judge appeals panel, Chief Judge Diane Wood of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that requiring employees to sign arbitration agreements as a condition of employment violated the 1935 National Labor Relations Act.
“(F)rom its earliest days,” Wood wrote, the National Labor Relations Board, has held “that employer-imposed, individual agreements” that try to restrict employee rights under the NLRA “are unenforceable.”
The suit originated following a dispute by technical writer Jacob Lewis for overtime pay.