By Doug Cunningham, May 19, 2016
[Tara Zoumer]: "As a citizen I don't ever want to give up my rights to a trial by jury, or to my judicial system period."
Former WeWork employee Tara Zoumer on why she's fighting back against a forced arbitration agreement imposed on WeWork employees. When Tara refused to sign the waiver of her legal rights WeWork fired her. So she's fighting that firing and other alleged violations of labor law by WeWork. She says she's determined to do all she can to continue to fight to assert her labor rights and her right to recourse in the judicial system.
[Tara Zoumer]: "By signing this you're giving away your right to fight back later, really. And this is just the privatization of the court system ultimately, which is terrifying words to put together and say. But that's really what's happening out there.
So I urge everyone to just fight back and stand up for yourself. Also, talk to each other. It's really important. I found there are still other employees that I'm helping that are former employees from this company as well. We've done it together."
Forcing employees to sign arbitration agreements waiving their rights to class action lawsuits and other judicial due process is emerging as a huge issue for workers. Corporations are using these forced arbitration procedures to block workers court rights while passing them off to employees as standard employment policy.
Ramsey Hafani is Tara Zoumer's attorney in this case. He says WeWork rolled out a new national and very restrictive arbitration contract and forced workers to sign it, which led to Tara Zoumer's firing.
[Ramsey Hafani]: "Our client did not sign. And she even went further than not signing. She blasted an email out to about 150 co-workers saying saying you are waiving your right to a jury trial and to a class action with this arbitration agreement. You should consult with a lawyer before you sign it. (Management) Definitely did not like that. And so the next day she was fired."
WeWork managed to manipulate the legal system to get the case heard in a federal court in New York, which upheld the arbitration agreement. So for now Tara Zoumer will gothrough the arbitration, but the battle to assert her legal rights isn't over.
[Ramsey Hafani]: "There hasn't been any sort of substantive ruing on her claims yet. And she is also pursuing an NLRB claim."
Tara says she's determined to keep fighting for her rights.
[Tara Zoumer]: "I've never actually understood my rights as a citizen so much until this experience. They're so important when they are threatened."
It's expected to take months to get a ruling from the National Labor Relations Board in the WeWork case. In the meantime Tara Zoumer will continue waging her legal battle for workers to have free access to judicial due process rights.