Assemblymember Steck’s Legislation Targeting Unconscionable Contracts Passes Assembly

Assemblymember Phil Steck (D-Colonie) announced that legislation he authored to crack down on unconscionable contracts that put employees and consumers at risk has passed the Assembly (A.2855). The bill bans certain unfair and oppressive practices, including measures that force New York residents into arbitration in distant locations.

Assemblyman Steck commented: “As a private attorney, I have had cases in which New York employees and consumers have been forced into arbitration in faraway states like California. This is a practical deterrent to justice, due to the extreme cost of litigating in a distant forum. In this bill, we have identified and outlawed certain unfair and oppressive practices, while at the same time preserving the right of business to engage in fair arbitration with consumers and employees.”

In addition to forcing arbitration in other states, the bill targets other unscrupulous practices, such as:

  • Forcing waiver of statutory claims that is requiring people to give up their right to bring claims for violation of state law.
  • Forcing waiver of punitive damage claims.
  • Shortening the statute of limitations to less than the length allowed by law.
  • Imposing arbitration costs that employees and consumers are not realistically able to pay.
  • Not giving employees and consumers time to consult with counsel.

“Too often, those with more resources present contracts that use ‘legal speak’ and can create unfair and oppressive circumstances for the people they are dealing with,” added Steck. “It’s important that we step up and ban these deceptive processes.”