WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to consider whether companies can head off costly class action lawsuits by forcing employees to give up their right to pursue work-related legal claims in court as a group.

The justices took up appeals of three lower court rulings, including one involving global professional services giant Ernst & Young that dealt with the legality of agreements signed by workers requiring them to arbitrate disputes with their employers individually rather bring class action lawsuits with their coworkers.

(Reporting by Robert Iafolla; Editing by Will Dunham)

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