Democratic AGs Try to Drive a Truck Through Arbitration Act Exemption

  • A group of 16 Democratic AGs filed an amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court in Bissonnette v. LePage Bakeries, urging the reversal of a lower court’s holding that truck drivers for non-transportation companies do not fall within an exemption to the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA).
  • The FAA requires workers who have signed arbitration agreements with their employers to raise claims in private arbitration proceedings; however, the Act contains an exemption to the rule for “seamen, railroad employees, or any other class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce.” The Second Circuit held that the plaintiffs in the case, drivers for a baked-goods company who delivered products from warehouses to retail stores, did not fall within the exemption because their employer was not in the transportation industry.
  • In their amicus brief, the AGs argue that the addition of a transportation-industry requirement into the exemption would undermine Congress’s intent to ensure that arbitrability questions under the FAA are resolved quickly so that parties may turn to the merits of their case. In addition, the AGs assert that allowing transportation workers to resolve complaints in public proceedings ensures that states can monitor the smooth operation of commerce within their borders and attain safe and lawful workplaces conditions for their residents.