Jackson v. Rent-A-Center: A Supreme Court Challenge to Unconscionable Mandatory Arbitration Clauses in Employment Contracts

Source: Matt Wessler, Public Justice, Access to Justice Update, 2010

On April 26, the U.S. Supreme Court heard argument in a watershed arbitration case, Rent-A-Center v. Jackson, that poses significant questions about the scope and meaning of the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”), the relationship between courts and arbitration, and the basic ability of consumers and employees to gain access to courts. The issue – which seemed to puzzle and, at times, frustrate the Court – was whether an arbitration agreement that specifies that any challenge to the validity or enforceability of the arbitration agreement must be decided by an arbitrator requires a court, when faced with an unconscionability challenge to the arbitration agreement itself, to enforce the agreement and send the parties to arbitration for resolution of that unconscionability challenge.

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