Corporate Accountability Now! - Rights & Democracy VT

Corporate Accountability Now!

Working families have won important victories on a range of workplace rights and consumer protection standards in the past five years.

Responding to organizing by working people, policymakers have enacted dramatic increases to the minimum wage, paid sick and family leave, equal pay guarantees, and protections against predatory payday and auto loans – delivering real benefits for our communities.

However, enforcement of these new standards remains a challenge. Traditionally, workers and consumers could file lawsuits to hold lawbreakers accountable. Most of us have lost the right to go to court, now that powerful corporations are burying forced arbitration provisions deep in the fine print of contracts.

Corporations and their political allies are denying more than 60 million people – half the American workforce – their right to challenge their employer in court.

These hidden clauses strip away our rights to utilize our public justice system to sue, to participate in a class action lawsuit, or to appeal, and completely stack the deck against employees and consumers. Companies use arbitration to hide wrongdoing: women who experience sexual harassment are often forced into arbitration, which silences them from speaking out.

This is why we need Corporate Accountability Now!

Corporate_Accountability_Now_logo-01.pngWith the federal government refusing to protect Americans from corporate abuse, we want our policymakers to ensure that public enforcement can hold corporate wrongdoers accountable. For example, by silencing whistleblowers who would file private lawsuits, forced arbitration leaves public agencies solely responsible for policing violations of labor laws. Strict federal preemption prohibits states from regulating arbitration clauses – but we can take action to increase Vermont's enforcement capacity.

Modeled on an ancient legal practice known as qui tam, and California’s successful Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA), we are calling on lawmakers to enact a law that can:
  • Authorize private citizens, especially employees, who have been harmed by unlawful practices to initiate a public enforcement action on behalf of the state. The state can then choose whether to intervene or let the whistleblowers manage the litigation on the state’s behalf.  
  • Expose company-wide violations and collect penalties on behalf of all affected consumers or workers.
  • Collect millions in civil penalties from lawbreakers. Most of the penalty revenue would go to the state, with a portion retained by the whistleblowers who brought the suit. California’s Department of Labor receives approximately $5 million in PAGA revenue each year.
  • Preserve access to courts. The public enforcement action is filed in the name of the state and all affected residents, as the state’s way of enforcing its laws. Because the lawsuit doesn’t arise from the contract between the company and a consumer or employee, courts have ruled that these claims can’t be forced into arbitration.

Your legislators need to hear from you so that they understand the need to hold corporations accountable - now!

Sign on to support & share your story! 

Who's signing

Matthew LeFluer
chuck Pizer
Caitlin Morgan
Rikki Risatti
Rachel Siegel
Caitlin Waddick
James Haslam
Lodiza Lepore
Barbarina Heyerdahl
Susan Westin
Amanda Sheppard
Danielle Coté Sukkaew
Erin Stillson Wolf
Laura Chapman
Ann Zimmerman
Sarah Dandelions
John Benoit
Jill Neitlich
Dustin Tanner
Bonnie Filker
Jen Berger
Ami Ji Schmid
Maggie Lenz
Eesha Williams
Kate Logan
Alison Nihart
36 signatures

Will you sign?

  • Matthew LeFluer
    signed 2018-08-15 14:30:11 -0400
    I. Have. A. Learning. Disability. ( Autism ). And. I. Use. To. Work. For. Walmart. And. Was. Treated. Not. Very. Fair. In. Ways. That’s. Why. I Left. The. Workforce. Behind. Due. To. Disability. Rights. Not. Being. Held. By. Walmart. Company. And. In. Violation. Of. The. ADR. America. Disability. Rights to. Work.
  • chuck Pizer
    signed 2018-08-13 09:11:14 -0400
  • Caitlin Morgan
    signed 2018-03-30 17:08:34 -0400
    Caitlin Morgan
  • Rikki Risatti
    signed 2018-03-25 01:16:49 -0400
    After enduring another painful year of homelessness from gentrification displacement from 7 years of living in White River Junction, VT; this winter we moved into the only occupancy that accepted us after ceaseless searching for any opportunity. We were rejected by section 8 options for being too poor, even with SSDI.

    I invested all of my time and savings into making the space livable where both a teenage girl had killed herself in and a woman had been recently raped by an ex military sniper who is now in prison for serial aggressively violent crimes. After a few months of delay, the landlord responded to paying an electrician to connect heat to a freezing room that then exposed us to contracting bed bug/mites which spread contamination throughout the house. Despite being hard working and intelligent people, we do not have a functioning dryer to combat the black mold exasperated from a leaking roof or to kill the pest infestation eating us alive nor can afford the hundreds of dollars to launder fabrics . My medical debt from disabilities and limited income has prevented me from obtaining even purchasing bed bug protective covers for bedding that was donated to us to alleviate the burdens of our cyclic conditions of poverty perpetuating illnesses also denied coverage by Medicaid insurances division. I’m an advocate for basic income to benefit every resident regardless of circumstances or performance ability qualifications as a way to stimulate community vitality. Financial security is a basic right everyone is worthy of to receive, gross negligence of this is a deplorable travesty that must be rectified now. To eliminate the abominations of poverty, everyone should receive at least $30,000 net yearly income to be freed from the enslavement of credit interest debt. People will then have the resource means to prevent the traumatic victimization of homelessness and resulting incriminating acts experienced as direct consequence of surviving poverty.

    A temporary home “guest” which our circumstances coerced and pressured us into at this property was effected by countless mite bites, broke agreements to not smoke indoors, needlessly broke an entry window and refused to amend repairs, and choked me against a wall while I was trying to clean, and behaved in unwelcomed ways reported to the police whose current policy protected the man whom was not on the lease, neglected health hygiene, and was physically abusive. Too many people for too long have directly been harmed by these policies which will immediately change as soon as government politicians authentically represent addressing constituents needs.

    The local emergency response for crisis intervention granted by Economic Services sheltered me in a motel that had no bed bug covers on the pillows, bed, or box spring. The room I’m quarantined in while being treated for scabies is dirty, covered with mold, and dead bugs for $90 a nigh. I found dried blood marks on the pillows and the management whom was confrontational about accepting my service dog rights, also refused to wash to the provided blankets with holes in the sheets. The Health Department must expanding budgets to include bed bug/mite cover requirements as a public health code concern.

    I chose to vote for Bernie once, but he has not delivered reparation of The Public Demands to fund community vitality and protecting environmental rights historically neglected by current institutions which must cease systematic oppressions.

    1.The Public Demands the Vermont Liberation Union Movement “by any means necessary” cause to spread information on how to decolonize puritanical America and abolish fascist culture; a campaign whose moral agenda resolves to face corruption and stands accountable to empower a thriving environment for humanity.

    2.Residents Demand succeeding from federal jurisdiction.

    3.Residents Demand raising the poverty yearly income index be set to a net worth of $30,000.

    4.Residents Demand basic income grants to all residents regardless of verifying varying circumstances to a minimum of $30,000 net yearly income. With supplemental assistance reimbursement for all medical treatments for underemployed peoples living with disabilities.

    5.Residents Demand possessing hotel chain architectures in Vermont State to house displaced persons experiencing homelessness. Tourism economy flow will be redirected for accommodations by local independent hosts.

    6.Residents Demand all residencies must become equipped with a bathtub with access to hot water in addition to laundering services to promote good public health hygiene practices and prevent ailment outbreaks. And bedbug mite covers must be on all beds, box springs in all facilities.

    7.Residents Demand all social service departments and pharmacies must provide internal condoms at adjusted sliding scale , of donation fees, offering no less than 5 daily per individual receiving as needed.

    8.Residents Demand increase food stamp maximum allowance to $800 monthly per all non/under employed single and childless individuals, accommodating a budget of $200 per week. Non/ under employed active guardians should receive equal sum allowance per child.

    9.Residents Demand people living with disabilities quality bulk food home delivery service options payable by EBT.

    10.Residents Demand banning the VT Health Commissions Access Insurance Division (Medicaid) from roles of judgement to deny coverage so as to realize actual universal health care which does not prevent progressing medical prescriptions or treatment resource availability.

    11.Residents Demand Medicaid Insurance coverage for vision and dental.

    12.Residents Demand Migrant Sanctuary State Status; Removing all ICE employees from entering Vermont territory and offering equal citizen protections without requirement to verify identification documentation.

    13.Residents Demand Decriminalization of Sex Work and all drug substances.

    14.Residents Demand prisoner inmates not be sent out of state for incarceration and that local jails be de privatized non profits and be centers focused on restorative justice and rehabilitation mission statements.

    15.Residents demand no aide be denied based on Veteran status and duty post release of all internationally deployed soldiers to Decolonize American Imperialism. Vermont refuses production of nuclear/atomic bombs and resists invasion in defense.

    16.Residents Demand rape convictions be sentenced to any punishment method of the survivors

    ; including a death sentence. If the convict has been found guilty of committing serial rape, they shall be publicly humiliated by cruel and unusual punishment to suffer painful torture afflicted for an extended period of time before allowed mercy of death.

    17.Residents Demand School Tuition Coverage and career investment debt interest cancellation

    18.Residents Demand paid full and part time employment options with complete insurance benefits plus sick leave, excused birthing abscense, and vacation coverage, plus driving Id license provisions with state maintained vehicles for ethnic minority ethic committees designated to every administrative agency to further empower diversity in population development to counteract white colonial supremacy to present transparent gender, sexuality, and ethnic eugenics educational events, bias preference discrimination awareness, advising and protecting available safe space as conflict resolution mediators, and anti bullying programming to promote plurality inclusivity programs requiring all staff observation and participatory attendance.

    19.Residents Demand 24 hour available transportation service in every county.

    20.Residents Demand Ban on businesses supplying carry out handled plastic bags.

    21.Residents Demand Mandatory state wide zero sort recycling and composting.

    22.Residents Demand Ban on all fracking infrastructure.

    23.Residents Demand Ban on international imports from unethical slavery; including but not limited to offending industrial factory, agriculture, or corporations under complaint.

    24.Residents Demand businesses whom have been cited for pollution to desist pollution practices regardless of fees charged, environmental safety denies businesses to pay bribes to continue polluting.

    25.Residents Demand Sheriff department offering relief of abuse to non domestic partners in shared household residences.

    26.Residents Demand Licensed Counselor Professionals not require supervision from Psychiatrists.

    27.Residents Demand Hate Groups to not gather.

    28.Residents Demand secure funding granted for each county to hold at least one annual parade festival requiring businesses schedules to accommodate workers right to attend.

    29.Residents Demands national and state recognition of emancipation for minors. Local applicants with critical need to escape conditions causing failure to thrive must be supervised by DCF whose regulations must deny guardianship appeals of decision outcome, make no exception to ever reinstate an adolescent to return to guardianship, and must permit youth under the age of 18 appeal opportunities to plea without pressure or coercion for alternative choice preferences of consented custody responsibilities between never sexually related individuals. If the person under 18 becomes sexually involved with, harassed, abused, raped, or assaulted by a guardian, the pervert terminates granted custody status rights immediately and DCF must be notified ASAP on how to reconcile the adolescent as Independent or recognize a mutually consensual appointment of a new guardian.

    30.Residents Demand High school curriculum require an independent research and debate class and critical analysis of the Art of War and the Anarchist Cook Book.

    31.The World Demands the impeachment of the Trump Regime and presidential re election with banishment of the Electoral College from assembling participation and to be imprisoned for treason when found to be conspiring practice.

    32. Residents Demand absolute advancements acknowledging validation of all Indigenous Sovereignty Treaty Respects and deliverance of reparations for Native, POC, LGBTQAI+, and under privileged exploits surviving inter generational democide.

    33.Residents Demand democratic representative positions immediately cooperate with these civil law policy amendments. Intersectionalist movements will enforce full government compliance to expedite modernizing preexisting terms of legalities by occupying any means necessary, free of risk from mercenary interruption or by police intervention or arrest in protest demonstrations whenever politicians fail to be an ally in solidarity with these causes.
  • Rachel Siegel
    signed 2018-03-11 22:59:06 -0400
  • Caitlin Waddick
    signed 2018-03-11 22:00:46 -0400
  • James Haslam
    signed 2018-03-11 18:02:59 -0400
    James Haslam
  • Lodiza Lepore
    signed 2018-03-11 13:13:16 -0400
    Lodiza Lepore
  • Barbarina Heyerdahl
    signed 2018-03-11 12:35:14 -0400
  • Susan Westin
    signed 2018-03-09 18:41:26 -0500
    What percentage of employees (particularly women) can afford to take an employer to court? And what percentage of those could afford the cost to win? It’s time to get real.
  • Amanda Sheppard
    signed 2018-03-09 16:19:55 -0500
    I was at threat of loosing my career and being dicredited because I didn’t have the financial means to defend myself nor the time or mental capacity. Then I made mysef believe it was more important to maintain my Gender Conforming rolls. Now is the time for others to know it happened to me too.
  • Danielle Coté Sukkaew
    signed 2018-03-09 11:34:56 -0500
  • @RightsVT tweeted this page. 2018-03-09 11:34:40 -0500
    Sign the petition and share your story: We demand corporate accountability now!"
  • Erin Stillson Wolf
    signed 2018-03-09 10:13:51 -0500
    Erin Stillson Wolf
  • Laura Chapman
    signed 2018-03-09 08:35:36 -0500
  • Ann Zimmerman
    signed 2018-03-08 23:17:49 -0500
  • Sarah Dandelions
    signed 2018-03-08 23:05:03 -0500
  • John Benoit
    posted about this on Facebook 2018-03-08 20:47:20 -0500
    Sign the petition: Forced Arbitration
  • John Benoit
    @JohnBenoit88 tweeted link to this page. 2018-03-08 20:47:17 -0500
  • John Benoit
    signed 2018-03-08 20:47:01 -0500
    What is Stalling Wrongful Injury Lawyers?

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    By Ralph Nader

    February 7, 2018

    Up against four decades of megacorporate erosion of wrongfully injured Americans’ access to our courts, trial lawyers are wondering what use is left of the Seventh Amendment, our constitutional right to trial by jury?

    Indentured lawmakers pass laws blocking or obstructing harmed individuals who are simply seeking fair compensation for their medical expenses, wage loss and suffering as a result of actions committed by their wrongdoers. Corporations, with their fine print consumer contracts, are eluding justice for some serious crimes by employing compulsory arbitration clauses, which preemptively force victims into closed, private arbitration (in lieu of trial by jury) and block the wrongfully injured from getting their day in open court.

    It’s unavoidable. Chances are you sign such clauses regularly without ever knowing it. Everywhere, lawsuits, jury trials and verdicts are diminishing in the midst of population growth and ever more invasive technologies, drugs, chemicals, and many other products—all with the very real potential to suffer from dangerous defects, and all bearing built-in immunities for the guilty parties, should these defects come to light. Indeed, the vast majority of fatalities and serious injuries from preventable causes in the health care industry, factories, mines, drillers and hurtful products never even see an attorney.

    Still the corporate lobbies, led by the insurance industry, keep pressing to block the courtroom door and avoid accepting responsibility for their injurious deeds.

    They built this system of justice, but collectively, they have not been up to defending and preserving it from the mounting counterattacks.

    The trial lawyers cannot match their adversaries in political contributions. However, there is one simple thing they could do. Should they deign to return the calls of consumer, environmental and labor groups wishing to forge alliances at the grass roots, such a union of minds could turn the tide for the trial lawyers who have long been on the defensive. Bear in mind, the law of wrongful injury (tort law) defends all the people regardless of political persuasion, race, gender or economic background. An unbeatable coalition could be assembled.

    For over fifty years, I’ve been fighting, as a volunteer, for more appropriate utilization of our civil justice system to further its goals of compensation for the wrongfully injured, public disclosure of hazards, consequences for crimes against innocent victims and the environment, and deterrence against culpable actors. This effort is part and parcel of consumer, environmental and worker safety movements. In fact, the dangers that prompted safety legislation and regulations were often first disclosed by personal injury lawsuits.

    Yet, with luminous exceptions, most major plaintiff law firms are not responding to the mobilization of these constituencies. They tend to their selected clients as attorneys but do not flex their muscles and resources as proactive lawyers by addressing the overall crisis that is the slow-motion destruction of civil justice.

    Their adversaries have established so-called “lawsuit abuse” groups in numerous states and activated their dealers, agents and professional societies to keep the siege on our Seventh Amendment rights proliferating with wildly inaccurate assertions and hyperbolic anecdotes.

    Inexplicably, these successful law firms will not protect the dwindling forest for the few trees they are nurturing. You call them for collaborative projects and their secretaries keep saying they are “in deposition” or are “on conference calls” that seem to occur perpetually.

    I suspect that they are just not interested enough, no matter their enormous wealth from contingent fees in such areas as the great tobacco, asbestos, drug, oil spill or motor vehicle class actions. They have not built collateral civic institutions to begin to match their opponents even though these civic groups would be speaking for tens of millions of families.

    In an open letter to plaintiff attorneys circulated in 2012, I described how the great law of torts is under assault and demands a multidimensional mobilization of the public. It was overwhelmingly ignored.

    On September 29, 2016, we organized the first ever national celebration of this pillar of private justice at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. Some of the region’s leading trial lawyers promised to bring people out and help with the expenses. They struck out.

    There was a time twenty-five to fifty years ago when trial lawyers recognized the necessity of community education. They offered seminars in property, consumer, personal injury, civil rights and contract law in a program called The People’s Law School. Others joined with the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health to share little known product and environmental hazards discovered in their litigation which they hoped would foster broader protections. They started, at my suggestion, a marvelous non-profit litigation group called Public Justice in 1982 that brings fundamental court cases unlikely to be brought by commercial attorneys.

    Presently, personal injury lawyers, except for the few rich ones, are not making big money. They are discouraged. Their own state trial lawyer associations report dwindling membership, smaller budgets and less engagement. Whole areas of practice are nearly disappearing, as in California with its draconian statutory caps and other restrictions on litigating serious medical malpractice injuries, which limit compensation to $250,000—regardless of the severity of the injury—for a lifetime of pain and suffering. (See my letter to Governor Jerry Brown.)

    But there is one smallish firm in California that shows their colleagues just what can be accomplished for the American people by combining logical vision with enabling resources for the common good.

    I’ll describe what this firm has done for America in next week’s column, and ask the question, what are many larger personal injury firms waiting for?
  • Jill Neitlich
    signed 2018-03-08 19:34:55 -0500
    Jill Neitlich
  • Dustin Tanner
    signed 2018-03-08 18:56:59 -0500
  • Bonnie Filker
    signed 2018-03-08 18:42:56 -0500
    My story of sexual assault in the workplace has left me with body dysmorphia and an estranged connection to my identity as “woman.”
  • Jen Berger
    posted about this on Facebook 2018-03-08 17:57:14 -0500
    Sign the petition: Forced Arbitration
  • Jen Berger
    signed 2018-03-08 17:56:56 -0500
  • Ami Ji Schmid
    signed 2018-03-08 17:31:23 -0500
  • Maggie Lenz
    signed 2018-03-08 17:08:06 -0500
  • Eesha Williams
    signed 2018-03-08 17:06:10 -0500
  • Kate Logan
    signed 2018-03-08 17:00:32 -0500
  • Alison Nihart
    signed 2018-03-08 16:48:27 -0500


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