Murphy Oil USA v. National Labor Relations Board: Bad News For Workers’ Rights

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The battle between the National Labor Relations Board and the federal circuit courts continues with the 5th Circuit’s recent decision in Murphy Oil USA v. NLRB, No. 14-60800 (5th Cir. Oct. 26, 2015).  The Fifth Circuit refused to depart from its decision in D.R. Horton, Inc., 737 F.3d 344 (5th Cir. 2013) in holding that an employment agreement containing an arbitration clause that either implicitly or explicitly waives an employee’s right to pursue class and collective claims in court or in arbitration does not violate the National Labor Relations Act. The animating jurisprudence in D.R. Horton – and by extension, Murphy Oil – is that Federal Arbitration Act is the highest law of the land superseding the rights of employees to band together to petition or complain over conditions of employment.  This is a far cry from what is typically taught in any mainstream history class covering the dramatic story of workers’ rights and labor relations in this country. The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in 2017. A decision is expected in 2018.

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