6 surprising times you may be forced into arbitration


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If you’ve followed the lawsuit former Fox News personality Gretchen Carlson filed against Roger Ailes, who resigned Thursday as the cable network’s CEO, you might know Carlson may never get her day in court.

Ailes has argued Carlson’s contract requires that her sexual harassment claims be heard behind closed doors. A judge must decide whether the appropriate venue to hear Carlson’s claims is a public courtroom or in a private hearing before an arbitrator where the testimony would be secret.

Think it couldn’t happen to you? Read on.

Mandatory arbitration — a contract requiring parties to settle disputes outside of court — isn’t just something that gets tossed about in high-profile situations. It’s not restricted to employment matters, either.

Arbitration clauses are everywhere. If you’ve taken out a private student loan, bought insurance or, yes, downloaded Pokemon Go, you’ve probably agreed to mandatory arbitration in case of a dispute.

Any time you have any kind of contract with a company, you likely have signed an arbitration agreement, says Ira Rheingold, executive director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates: “I shouldn’t say signed, I shouldn’t say consented. You’ve clicked a button that theoretically has taken away your right to our public courts.”

Here are 6 places — some perhaps surprising — you might encounter arbitration clauses and what those clauses might mean for you.