Thursday, April 10, 2014
Employee Bound By Arbitration Agreement in Employment Application
Last month Judge Conrad of the Western District of Virginia held that an employee was required to arbitrate his claims because the employees signed an employment application agreeing if employed to be bound by the company's Dispute Resolution Process (DRP), which included arbitration. The employee had denied signing the DRP agreement itself, but admitted he signed the employment application referencing it. In addition to finding the employment application was an agreement to arbitrate, Judge Conrad rejected the employee's arguments that: 1) the DRP violated either the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) or the Norris-LaGuardia Act of 1932 (NLGA); 2) the arbitration agreement was unconscionable; or 3) the arbitration agreement was a contract of adhesion. While all arbitration agreements stand or fall on individual verbiage and facts, this case provides helpful guidance to employers on developing enforceable and binding arbitration agreements for its employees, and in particular establishing binding arbitration as early as the employment application itself.