Former franchise owner Deborah Williams and consumer advocates lobbied Capitol Hill on Wednesday, April 29 to ask that Congress pass the Arbitration Fairness Act, a pending bill that bans mandatory arbitration clauses in franchise and other contracts. It was part of an event designated “Arbitration Fairness Day”.

The measure is meant to ensure that the decision to arbitrate is made voluntarily. The bill aims to make pre-dispute agreements requiring arbitration for any employment, consumer, franchise, or civil rights disputes unenforceable to allow a choice between arbitration and the civil court system.

If the Arbitration Fairness Act is passed it would remove the mandatory part from the arbitration clause — allowing the parties to choose whether they want to go to arbitration or have a trial.

The new bill’s sole aim is to end the unscrupulous business practice of forcing consumers and employees into biased arbitrations by binding them long before any disputes arise.

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