S.J. Res. 47 Trumps Consumer Rights

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By Amanda Werner, Public Citizen and Americans for Financial Reform
The Equifax data breach and Wells Fargo scandals ignited consumer outrage over the use of forced arbitration. But Equifax and Wells Fargo are hardly the only companies that use these clauses.

Public Citizen found that the businesses owned by President Donald Trump similarly deny consumers and employees their legal rights. And as president, he could sign legislation to kill the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) new rule that would stop banks from blocking their customers’ class-action rights.

It is common knowledge that Trump has been named as a defendant in a lot of lawsuits.

How many is a lot? Try 1,450.

Among these lawsuits are class actions, including the suit filed by allegedly defrauded Trump University students, which Trump paid $25 million to settle, a suit filed by Trump golf club members who sought refunds, which Trump paid $5.7 million to settle, and a suit filed by Trump employees over allegations of denying breaks and mistreatment of women, which Trump paid at least $475,000 to settle.

At some point, Trump – who has been a plaintiff in about 1,900 lawsuits — decided to start taking away his employees’ right to sue by inserting a forced arbitration clause into their employment contracts.

The contracts require that any disputes between an employee and Trump’s businesses – and his presidential campaign – be filed in secretive and potentially biased arbitration, not a public court of law.

But it’s not just Trump Organization and campaign employees who are subject to unfair terms.

Customers who participate in the Trump Hotels’ “Trump Card” program must waive their right to join a class action:

Because of language buried in the penultimate paragraph of Trump Golf’s terms (a 7,600-word document), customers of that business waive the same right:

And the same goes for Trump Winery:

So Trump is more than willing to bully critics with lawsuit threats, but when it comes to harmed employees and ripped-off consumers holding Trump accountable, Trump cowers behind a shield of corporate legalese.

In this way, Trump is just like all the other corporate executives who use rip-off causes to avoid accountability. So when it comes to forced arbitration, Trump is no populist. He’s just another member of the corporate elite, rigging the system against ordinary Americans.

This week, the Senate is expected to vote on S.J. Res. 47 — legislation that would kill the CFPB rule AND block the agency from enacting a similar rule in the future — and Trump would be the one to sign it into law. Just like consumers voiced their outrage against Equifax and Wells Fargo, we much channel the power of populism to stop this harmful legislation.

This week, Senators must vote no on this get-out-of-jail-free card for crooked corporate executives working to rip off consumers.

​ Don’t let S.J. Res. 47 trump consumer rights.​
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