The National Women’s Law Center and law firm Katz, Marshall & Banks submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Jock v. Sterling Jewelers.

This case is a class action challenge to pervasive sex discrimination in pay and promotion opportunities under Title VII and the Equal Pay Act.  Because the plaintiffs had all signed enforceable arbitration agreements, their case was referred to arbitration when it was first filed ten years ago.  The plaintiffs have been thwarted in their effort to get a remedy by the district court’s latest ruling, which has now held that the arbitrator exceeded her powers in certifying a nation-wide class of 70,000 women who are current or former employees of Sterling.

Because arbitration agreements are increasingly common, it is crucial to fight for the right to adjudicate systemic or class claims in arbitration.  The Jock class has successfully fought repeated challenges to its right to arbitrate and now, after ten years, many of the 70,000 women may be denied the right to benefit from the class relief that may be awarded unless we help persuade the Second Circuit that this result is untenable.

Our amicus brief emphasizes the importance of working women’s ability to proceed as a class to challenge gender discrimination, regardless of whether the case is being arbitrated or litigated in court.