Morgan Stanley’s Classless E-mail Action

Class action lawsuits are likely to be a part of any large corporation’s lifespan at some point. One of the biggest financial corporations, Morgan Stanley, is no stranger to class action proceedings.  However, recently the investment behemoth resorted to rather sneaky means of attempting to become sue-proof.

In an e-mail sent to all employees and associates of the massive investment firm, it seems Morgan Stanley has figured out a way for this to become a reality. Certainly, there are still ways for real grievances to be handled. Morgan Stanley invites all employees to bring any problems or violations of their worker rights to the table – the arbitration table, that is. The program is called CARE. It stands for Convenient Access to Resolutions for Employees.

It sounds awfully nice, but the problem is there have been changes put into place in the program. Changes, that employees who failed to opt-in after reading the e-mail containing the changes will have to deal with. Essentially, those changes included being prohibited from lawsuits against Morgan Stanley either as an individual or as part of a class action suit.

The problem with the e-mail announcing this was that most people infer the term opt-in as having to do something in writing to agree to or sign up for it. Take, for instance, signing up for online newsletters. You do not necessarily get them until you opt-in or provide your address. In this case, the opposite held true. Employees were to opt-out which meant, in this rare instance, to send in a written notice that they did not agree to the changes. Opting in meant doing nothing.

While most any good employee would be happy to take the time to read any type of e-mail from a boss or higher up, not every person has the time in a busy work day to go over something that, at first subject-line glance, looks like a blanket, cc-all message about Morgan Stanley’s latest ongoings. What is more, most busy workers have no problem not responding to a message as it saves them precious time while on the clock.

Arbitration is one of those legal set ups that are famously used by credit card companies. Essentially, they are such complex processes that no individual would bother to arbitrate because the corporation could easily win out just by having more money to drag out the for-profit process. Apparently, Morgan Stanley figured this out and decided to roll out the arbitration-only grievance method.

Following the uproar of the offending, but CARE-ing message, Morgan Stanley got word that a class-action lawsuit was filed on the eve of the opt-out deadline. The way the former employee got around the arbitration-only pressure was by suing them for racial discrimination.

The New York Times explains that the CARE program dodges civil rights laws by forcing employees to go through arbitration rather than courts of law to settle all racial or sexual discrimination disputes.