The Supreme Court’s Landmark Decision in New Prime Inc. v. Oliveira: A Panoptic View of America’s Civil Justice System and Arbitration
68 Emory L.J. Online 1059 (2019)
25 Pages Posted: 9 Dec 2019
Date Written: October 5, 2019
This article examines the recent U.S. Supreme Court case of New Prime Inc. v. Oliveira and notes that it was the first decision in several decades where the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of workers and rejected an expansive interpretation of the Federal Arbitration Act. The New Prime case suggests a new approach that courts may use to fine-tune the existing legal framework of the FAA. There are conflicting decisions involving multiple different aspects of arbitration law, and fixing arbitration law is a pressing need in light of the hundreds of millions of arbitration clauses that have proliferated in American society. The Court’s analysis in New Prime suggests a new judicial approach that can be used to fix the legal framework for arbitration.
This article also explores how the New Prime decision should be viewed in the context of the current sociopolitical environment in which it was issued: in the wake of the #MeToo movement, a public backlash has developed against the widespread use of forced arbitration in America. There is also bipartisan support for legislative reforms as well as some private initiatives to cut back on the use of arbitration.
Also considered in this article is how the Court’s analysis in New Prime suggests a new judicial approach that can be used to fix the legal framework for arbitration and raises larger questions about the scope of the FAA, which workers are exempt from its coverage, and how workers in the gig economy, such as Uber and Lyft drivers, could be impacted and no longer forced to arbitrate. This article concludes by examining fundamental questions raised by New Prime, like what the future role of arbitration in America’s civil justice system should be.
Keywords: New Prime Inc. v. Oliveira, arbitration, Federal Arbitration Act
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