Assemblymember Steck: Legislation Protects Consumers and Employees from Unfair Contracts

Assemblymember Phil Steck (D-Colonie) announced that legislation he authored to protect consumers and employees from unfair and oppressive contracts passed the Assembly (A.2855).

“Dishonest companies have been using unconscionable contracts as a way to prevent employees and consumers from asserting their rights for far too long,” said Steck. “They count on people not fully understanding the contracts they’re signing. The option of arbitration sounds good on paper, but it’s often a tactic to deter people from their legal right to bring a claim.”

While arbitration provides an alternative forum for resolving disputes, the terms in some contracts dissuade consumers or employees from taking action by forcing claimants to travel unreasonable distances for arbitration, Steck noted. Steck’s bill bars this practice.

The measure also prohibits other deceptive practices like the inclusion of waivers requiring that individuals give up their right to bring claims for violations of state law and waivers of punitive damage claims. It also bans shortening the length of time for a statute of limitations to less than the length allowed by law, not giving employees or consumers time to consult with counsel and imposing unreasonable arbitration costs.

Steck noted that, as a labor attorney, he’s seen firsthand the lengths companies will go to mislead and deceive consumers and employees just to protect themselves and boost their bottom line.