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For employment lawyers, it is no secret that the Supreme Court loves alternative methods to dispute resolution, such as arbitration. In the recently handed-down, five-page opinion, in Nitro-Lift Technologies, LLC v. Howard, the Supreme Court affirmed its preference towards enforcing arbitration agreements by overturning a decision form the Oklahoma Supreme Court which ruled an employer’s non-compete agreement to be contrary to the law of Oklahoma.

Like many employees, the plaintiffs/employees in Nitro-Lift Technologies signed an arbitration agreement with their employer.  An arbitration agreement mutually restricts the employer and employee’s right to file a lawsuit in a court of law, in most circumstances, and relegates any disputes which arise between an employee and his or her employer to binding arbitration. The Supreme Court’s preference towards arbitration, arguably, generates from the Federal Arbitration Act, and the Court’s interpretation of said act as a national policy favoring arbitration.

Arbitration agreements have pros and cons for both employees and employers, but the Supreme Court’s decision in Nitro-Lift Technologies certainly benefits employers who have moved towards including arbitration agreements in their employment contracts because it enforces the fact that arbitration agreements will be enforced even if other portions of the employment contract are illegal as written.  Essentially, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that one portion of the plaintiffs/employees’ employment contract was illegal, but the United States Supreme Court held that the Oklahoma Supreme Court could not make that decision because the plaintiffs/employees’ employment contract included an arbitration agreement. As such, the employees were contractually obligated to submit the dispute over their non-compete agreements to an arbitrator rather than file a lawsuit in court.

This ruling is important for employment law attorneys, as it solidifies the appropriate circumstances in which employees, who have signed an arbitration agreement with their employer, may directly challenge aspects of their employment contracts in court.

If you even think that your employment rights have been violated or that you might need an employment lawyer, then call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at 866-797-6040. Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm is dedicated to protecting employees’ rights and solving employment disputes.


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