Two law firms drop mandatory arbitration requirements

More employers are dropping mandatory arbitration requirements as the secretive practice is coming under increasing attack in Congress, state legislatures and the courts.

Law firm Orrick said in a tweet this week that it will no longer require any employees, including associates, to sign arbitration agreements. Employees who sign arbitration agreements typically waive their rights to sue and agree to settle disputes through binding arbitration.

Orrick, which was founded in San Francisco in 1863, opened its Houston office two years ago. It now has 52 lawyers in Houston.

Orrick’s announcement came shortly after another law firm, Munger, Tolles & Olson, came under intense criticism on Twitter when a university lecturer obtained a copy of the firm’s policy that summer associates must use binding and secret arbitration for all employment-related claims.

Opposition to the policy was intense and the firm quickly reversed course. The firm tweeted out that it was wrong and that it will no longer require any employees, including summer associates, to sign mandatory arbitration agreements. The firm has offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

The moves follow other companies, including Microsoft, which recently dropped mandatory arbitration for sexual harassment claims.

RELATED: Mandatory arbitration, common foe of car buyers, bank customers and porn stars, under attack

Legislation is pending in Congress that would ban mandatory arbitration in cases of sexual harassment in the workplace. State attorneys general, including Ken Paxton of Texas, are urging lawmakers to act.

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