by Catherine Anderson, Esq.

From now until February 15, 2013, consumers may opt-out of the Arbitration Provision of the American Express credit card agreement. Consumers who opt-out of arbitration will be able to bring claims and disputes in court, on an individual or class basis, against American Express. Consumers who do not opt-out will lose valuable rights, such as “the right to litigate …claim[s] in court or have a jury trial on that claim” and “the right to participate in a representative capacity or as a member of any class pertaining to any claim.”

Why opt out of arbitration? Statistics from Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group, show that the corporate clients, not consumers, are routinely the predominant winners in arbitration. Moreover, the class action device is one of the most important tools consumers have against large companies. While an individual consumer claim is often for a modest sum, when aggregated among similarly situated consumers, the amount in controversy sky rockets. The American Express Arbitration Provision eliminates the corporate risk of class action liability. By opting out of arbitration, consumers can preserve the vital class action device and their right to trial by jury.

By Oren Giskan

A good decision out of the Seventh Circuit, Butler v. Sears Roebuck Inc., 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 23284 (7th Cir. November 13, 2012) makes quick work of two common arguments against class actions. The Butler case involves what plaintiff alleges is a mold problem in front loading washing machines sold by Sears.

First, defendants always argue against class certification. But Judge Posner doesn’t think this makes sense:

The key here is to learn the reasons for your termination. The company’s answers could help you later if you decide to negotiate your severance or file a claim against the company. Calmly write down the answers and don’t make any arguments or offers. This is an information collection moment. Anything you say here might be used against you. If you are directly asked a question, say that you need to think about it.

1) Why is my employment being terminated?

2) Who else is losing his job right now?

3) How many employees, including myself, are losing their jobs right now?

4) Who will replace me or handle my job responsibilities?

5) Who made the decision to let me go?

6) Was there anything wrong with my job performance?

7) How would you suggest I improve my performance in my next job?

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By Jason Solotaroff
Good people lose their jobs all the time. It can be anything from a restructuring, a layoff, a personality conflict with the boss or, unfortunately sometimes, unlawful discrimination. How do you make sure you protect your rights and exit with the best financial package? As an experienced New York employment attorney, this is the advice I give to our clients…and to my friends and family members.

Five Rules To Follow When Your Employment is Terminated

1. Remain Calm.

Not only is this good for your self-respect, it will help set the strong and confident tone that you’ll need later if there is a negotiation.

2. Ask Questions.

I’ve written a separate blog post here on the seven questions you should ask when you are laid off. The key here is to learn the reasons for your termination. The company’s answers could help you later if you decide to negotiate your severance or file a claim against the company. Calmly write down the answers and don’t make any arguments or offers. This is an information collection moment. Anything you say here might be used against you. If you are directly asked a question, say that you need to think about it.

3. Don’t advocate for yourself right away.

Even seasoned professionals who are excellent negotiators can get emotional when they first find out about their terminations. Better to reflect first and calmly assemble your thoughts and arguments.
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