“Fear to death” through arbitration: companies drown in their own system


An AT&T spokesperson said, “The FairShake system is unnecessary because our process is so easy to follow and efficient for consumers.”

FairShake is expanding into other areas, such as consumer credit and home security. For arbitration claims that FairShake has settled, consumers have received an average payment of $ 700.

Lenkner and his colleagues at Chicago-based Keller Lenkner also see a potentially viable legal niche in mass arbitration.

A former Boeing lawyer who worked for Justice Anthony M. Kennedy in the Supreme Court, Mr. Lenkner said that most companies never expected people to actually use arbitration.

“Conventional wisdom could say that arbitration is a bad development for the plaintiffs and an automatic victory for the companies,” he said. “We don’t see it that way. “

Keller Lenkner’s first wave of cases focused on workers in the concert economy. Many of these workers, particularly in food delivery companies, have been placed at the forefront of the coronavirus crisis by transporting food and supplies to homebound consumers, while risking becoming ill. Many of their employers require these workers to sign arbitration clauses.

Lenkner said he thought his company could economically mount arbitration claims one by one because the concert workers had similar allegations against companies like Uber and Postmates – namely that they were wrongly classified as independent contractors.


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