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U.S. Supreme Court Michael A. Scarcella/ ALM

Employees appeared to face an uphill fight in the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday as the justices heard arguments in a closely watched dispute over whether class action waivers in workplace arbitration agreements violate federal labor laws.

The three cases, consolidated for an hour of argument on the new term’s opening day, offered the justices a clash between the commands of two old, federal laws—the National Labor Relations Act, which protects employees’ rights to engage in “concerted” activities, and the Federal Arbitration Act, which mandates enforcement of valid arbitration agreements.

The high court’s arbitration decisions offer a “well trod path” for resolving the issue, argued Kirkland & Ellis partner Paul Clement, counsel to the three employers. Any tie, he added, “goes to the FAA.”

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