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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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28 Feb 2018 U.S. Supreme Court to Take Up Independent Contractor Arbitration Case

  Our sister labor and employment blog, Labor Relations, recently posted about an important case on the horizon for those in the transportation industry. This week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeal of New Prime, Inc., a transportation company that is asking the Court to overrule the First Circuit and find that an independent contractor’s class action claim should be compelled to arbitration.   Employers who rely on arbitration agreements with their employees and independent contractors will want to pay attention as the…

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24 Apr 2017 California Supreme Court Throws Down the Gauntlet on Arbitration Waivers

  The California Supreme Court is no stranger to invalidating mandatory arbitration provisions. Recently, however, the court lay down yet another challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court’s AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion case, holding that an arbitration agreement that waives the right to public injunctive relief is unenforceable under California law.   In the case, McGill v. Citibank, N.A., Sharon McGill alleged that Citbank engaged in illegal and deceptive practices in marketing a credit insurance plan she purchased. She filed a class action suit under…

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28 Oct 2016 Arbitration Agreement Enforced Based on Continued Employment

  According to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, two University of Phoenix employees agreed to mandatory arbitration agreements by continuing to work after receiving, but purportedly not electronically signing, the acknowledgment of the agreements.   In the unpublished decision in Aldrich v. University of Phoenix, Inc., the court found that the employees each electronically received the arbitration agreements, which were contained in the employee handbook.  The court also found that the university’s records showed each employee completed the acknowledgment form electronically (both individuals deny…

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15 Aug 2016 Fifth Circuit Triples Down on the Legality of Class Action Waivers in Arbitration Agreements

  On August 10, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals – for the third time – rejected the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) position that class action waivers in arbitration agreements are invalid under the National Labor Relations Act. In a short opinion, the Circuit said it was bound by its two previous published opinions directly addressing this issue and ruling that such waivers are valid pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act.    The ruling last Wednesday was the first time the Fifth Circuit has…

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03 Jun 2016 The Seventh Circuit Rejects Class & Collective Action Waivers In Arbitration Agreements

During the last few years, employers have taken comfort in a slew of court decisions that have held – in some form or another – that an arbitration agreement can waive the right to bring a class or collective action. For example, in AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion, 131 S. Ct. 1740 (2011), the U.S. Supreme Court found that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) preempted state law – and specifically California law – which had expressly prohibited class action waivers. The Supreme Court recently cemented that ruling…

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14 May 2016 Employer’s Delay Results in Waiver of Arbitration

In sports, a team could be penalized if there is a delay in game. In law, a company could lose its right to compel arbitration if it delays in exercising its arbitration rights. This is exactly what happened in a recent 8th Circuit Court of Appeals decision, Messina v. North Central Distributing, Inc. d/b/a Yosemite Home Decor.   In Messina, the former vice president, Richard Messina, signed a two-year employment agreement with North Central Distributing, Inc., d/b/a Yosemite Home Decor (Yosemite) as well as a…

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15 Oct 2015 California Employee Arbitration Bill Vetoed

In a move that has left employers relieved, California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a bill (AB 465) that would have prohibited employers from implementing arbitration agreements with its employees unless those employees had counsel and negotiated the arbitration agreement. The bill also would impose a $10,000 fine on employers for each violation.   In his veto message earlier this week, Governor Brown explained that the bill imposed a “blanket ban on mandatory arbitration agreements” and this ban “has been consistently struck down in other states…

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08 Oct 2015 Altering Arbitration: Sakkab v. Luxottica Retail North America

Overtime claims that a former LensCrafters employee brought against a California franchise led the Ninth Circuit to once again tweak arbitration rules. The divided 9th Circuit panel reversed the district court’s order granting defendant Luxottica Retail North America, Inc.’s motion to compel arbitration of claims and dismissing plaintiff’ Shukri Sakkab’s  first amended complaint, in a putative class action raising class employment-related claims and a non-class representative claim for civil penalties under the Private Attorney General Act.   Mr. Sakkab filed the complaint in San Diego against defendant,…

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02 Sep 2015 Man Bites Dog: Court Vacates Arbitration Award Against Sexual Harasser

It is the rare occasion when a court throws out an arbitration award. Typically the court’s ability to do so is quite limited by statute and/or the collective bargaining agreement under which the arbitration award. But a New York appellate court recently vacated an arbitrator’s award that put a bus driver (and union official) back to work even though he did not even show up to a hearing to contest sexual harassment charges against him. Recognizing its limited ability to vacate an arbitration award, the court…

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28 Aug 2015 California Strikes Again! Senate ‘OKs’ Bill Limiting Employment Arbitration

  This week the California State Senate passed a measure that would block most employers from forcing workers to agree to arbitrate labor disputes instead of filing claims with state agencies or courts.  The senate approved the measure, AB-465—which is sponsored by the California Labor Federation and has drawn fierce opposition from the California Chamber of Commerce. Following AB-465’s passage, the senate ordered the bill to the assembly. The bill would add a new provision to the Labor Code to prohibit any person from:  …

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