The Meaning and Contemporary Vitality of the Norris-LaGuardia Act
30 Pages Posted: 26 Nov 2013 Last revised: 7 Feb 2014
Date Written: November 26, 2013
Section 2 of the Norris-LaGuardia Act of 1932 declares it to be the public policy of the United States that employees have the right to engage in concerted activity for mutual aid or protection. Section 3 denies federal courts the power to enforce “any promise or undertaking” in violation of Section 2. However, it has become rather common today for employers not only to require employees to bring virtually any legal employment claim only in an arbitration system of the employer’s devising, but to require them to waive the ability to do so as part of any class or group. The latter provision has been challenged as unenforceable under Norris-LaGuardia; but, thus far, the courts have brushed the argument – and the Act – aside. This essay deals with the provenance and meaning of sections 2 and 3. It argues that Norris-LaGuardia continues to speak to the courts today; that it does render these contractual wavers unenforceable in the federal courts.
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