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U.S. Arbitration And Mediation Legislative Update

by Victoria VanBuren
January 2010

From the Disputing Blog of Karl Bayer, Victoria VanBuren, and Holly Hayes.

Victoria VanBuren

The following bills relating to alternative dispute resolution were introduced by the 111st Congress. Click on the bill number to read  its text and on the status link to find the bill’s most recent legislative action. Stay tuned to Disputing for more legislative updates!

Bills that passed:

  • “An Act Making Appropriations for the Department of Defense for the Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 2010, and for Other Purposes” contains an amendment (the “Franken Amendment“) that bans funds to defense contractors who require workers (employees and independent contractors) to arbitrate “any claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or any tort related to or arising out of sexual assault or harassment, including assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, or negligent hiring, supervision, or retention.” (H.R. 3326 ; Amendment; Senator Franken’s video is here) H.R. 3326 was signed by President Barack Obama and became law on December 19, 2009.  Final version is here and major actions are here. Also, find guest-post by F. Peter Phillips here and here.

Bills still pending:

  • The Arbitration Fairness Act of 2009 would ban mandatory pre-dispute arbitration in employment, consumer, and franchise contracts. Senate version: S. 931 and Status. House version: H.R. 1020 and Status.
  • The Employee Free Choice Act of 2009 would amend the National Labor Relations Act to require first mediation and then binding arbitration if both parties are unable to reach an agreement within a certain time frame. Senate version: S. 560 and Status. House version: H.R. 1409 and Status.
  • The Payday Loan Reform Act of 2009 would amend the Truth in Lending Act to establish additional payday loan requirements to protect consumers. This bill prohibits a mandatory arbitration clause that is “oppressive, unfair, unconscionable, or substantially in derogation of the rights of consumers.” H.R. 1214 and Status.
  • The Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act of 2009 would render pre-dispute arbitration clauses in nursing home contracts unenforceable. S. 512 and Status. House version: H.R. 1237 and Status.
  • The Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act of 2009 would amend the Truth in Lending Act of 1968. The bill provides that “[n]o residential mortgage loan and no extension of credit under an open end consumer credit plan secured by the principal dwelling of the consumer, other than a reverse mortgage may include terms which require arbitration of any other nonjudicial procedure as the method for resolving any controversy.” H.R. 1728 and Status.
  • The Labor Relations First Contract Negotiations Act of 2009 would amend the National Labor Relations Act to require the arbitration of initial contract negotiation disputes. H.R. 243 and Status.
  • The Consumer Fairness Act of 2009 would treat arbitration clauses which are unilaterally imposed on consumers as an unfair and deceptive trade practice and prohibit their use in consumer transactions. H.R. 991 and Status.
  • The Preserving Homes and Communities Act of 2009 would require certain mortgagees to make loan modifications, establish a grant program for state and local government mediation programs, and create databases on foreclosures. S. 1731 and Status.
  • The Conflict Resolution and Mediation Act of 2009 would provide assistance to local educational agencies for the prevention and reduction of conflict and violence. H.R. 4000 and Status.
  • The Agricultural Credit Act of 2009 would reauthorize state agricultural mediation programs under title V of the Agricultural Credit Act of 1987. H.R. 3509 and Status.
  • The Department of Peace Act of 2009 would establish a Department of Peace that would take a proactive, strategic approach in the development of policies that promote national and international conflict prevention, nonviolent intervention, mediation, peaceful resolution of conflict, and structured mediation of conflict. H.R.808 and Status.
  • The Rape Victims Act of 2009 provides that employment-related arbitration agreements shall not be enforceable with respect to any claim related to a tort arising out of rape. S. 2915 and Status.
  • The Foreclosure Mandatory Mediation Act of 2009 would require lenders of loans with Federal guarantees or Federal insurance to consent to mandatory mediation. S. 2912 and Status.

Biography


Victoria VanBuren holds a B.B.A. in Finance from Southern Methodist University and a J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law.  She focuses on intellectual property law and arbitration. Known as a "worker bee," she is an active legal blogger and is currently pursuing a degree in computer science. Prior to joining the team at Karl Bayer, Victoria worked at a boutique intellectual property law firm in Austin. She is well versed in computer hardware and programming languages: Assembly, C/C++, HTML, XHTML, XML, Perl, JavaScript, and PHP.

While in law school, Victoria was a Graduate Research Assistant for Professor John S. Dzienkowski, from The University of Texas at Austin. She was responsible for selecting cases for inclusion in the textbook International Petroleum Transactions. Victoria was particularly involved in researching the areas of international business litigation and arbitration. She also performed extensive research on political and economic risks within the context of international licensing agreements.

Having lived and studied in Mexico, Canada, and the U.S., Victoria brings a unique perspective to Karl Bayer. Right after high school, Victoria moved to Canada to study English and French. Born and raised in Mexico, she is a native Spanish speaker and a graduate of the Monterrey Institute of Technology (Instituto Tecnologico y the Estudios Superiores de Monterrey), where she concentrated in Physics and Mathematics.

Professional Activities

- American Bar Association, Young Lawyers
- American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA)
- Association of International Petroleum Negotiators (AIPN)
- National Hispanic Bar Association (NHBA)
- State Bar of Texas, Intellectual Property



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Website: www.karlbayer.com

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