In Arbitrators in Missouri could get more power in employment disputes under proposal, reporter Sky Chadde (St. Louis Dispatch) discusses a bill which was recently introduced in the state’s legislature. [1]   Below is a summary of the article.

A recent proposal in the Missouri legislature would give arbitrators the ability to decide whether an arbitration agreement between an employer and an at-will employee is enforceable.[2]  The legislation, proposed by Republicans, is said to be “simply a way to enforce employment contracts.”[3] According to Sen. Gary Romine, R-Ste. Genevieve, courts have been “eroding” arbitration agreements by making the decision of whether arbitration agreements are valid.[4] His legislation, says Romine, aims at “trying to create the standard that arbitration agreements are valid.”[5]

However, opposition to the proposed legislation argues that there may be a conflict of interest in having an arbitrator decide the issue of arbitrability of an arbitration agreement.[6]  Sen. Gina Mitten, D-Richmond Heights, argued in a hearing that arbitrators would likely find in favor of arbitration because of an arbitrator’s financial interest involved in hearing the dispute.[7]  But, some believe that a way around this possible conflict is to have one arbitrator decide the arbitrability and, if the arbitration agreement is determined to be enforceable, to then have another arbitrator decide the underlying dispute.[8]

Below are the sponsors of the legislation, alongside the proposed bills:

  • Gary Romine—Senate Bill 578[9]
  • Caleb Rowden—Senate Bill 831[10]
  • Brude DeGroot—House Bill 1402[11]
  • Kevin Corlew—House Bill 1512[12]

(This summary was prepared by Ryan Corrigan, a third-year law student at the University of Missouri School of Law.)

[1] Sky Chadde, Arbitrators in Missouri could get more power in employment disputes under proposal, St. Louis Post-Dispatch (last visited Feb. 12, 2018).

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] Id.

[8] Id.