Navy Reservist Believes He’s Entitled to More than Arbitration
Wednesday, June, 29, 2016
Kevin Ziober, a US Navy Reserve lieutenant was given a hero’s send-off from BLB Resources when he was deployed to Afghanistan in November 2012, but the well wishes quickly came to a halt a few hours after his farewell party when the soldier was terminated from his position with the company. The reason he was given was that his current project would be complete by the time he returned to his position from overseas.
According to the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, military service members must have their jobs given back to them when they return from war. However, BLB has found tooth and nail against Ziober since he filed a lawsuit in 2014 after his return from overseas. BLB is also pushing for a private arbitration proceeding instead of allowing the case to move to court.
This is yet another component in the growing debate over whether mandatory arbitration strips employees and consumers of their rights. These arbitration contracts have been immensely popular since 1991, when the US Supreme Court ruled companies could require them as an employment condition. One study estimates more than a quarter of employers force employees to sign contracts that waive their right to court hearings should a dispute arise. That number has increased since the initial study six years ago.
BLB Resources believes its arbitration agreement makes things more efficient and timely, and pointed out Ziober agreed to the agreement when he was hired. A US district court in California ruled in 2014 that the case must go to arbitration, but the Ninth Court of Appeals has agreed to hear the claim and determine if the protection of Ziober’s job also protects his right to settle the dispute in court.