No Signature? No Problem! California Court Rules That Separate Signature Not Necessary To Enforce Arbitration Agreement
- Written by Greg Blueford
In a recent win for California employers, a California Appellate Court provided some leeway for employers who do not have separately signed arbitration agreements for their employees. The court in Harris v. TAP Worldwide ruled that employers can enforce arbitration agreements under certain conditions even where an employee has not signed the specific agreement itself. Plaintiff Dwayne Harris filed a complaint against his employer, TAP Worldwide, asserting wrongful termination and wage and hour claims. TAP Worldwide attempted to compel the plaintiff to arbitration by relying on the arbitration agreement attached as an appendix to the company’s employee handbook, for which the plaintiff signed an acknowledgment of receipt. However, the plaintiff denied the existence of an arbitration agreement because he had not signed the actual attached agreement. The trial court denied TAP Worldwide’s request to compel arbitration.
On appeal, TAP Worldwide argued that the arbitration agreement was enforceable and that the arbitration policies were contained in three documents, including the employee handbook with the arbitration agreement attached in the appendix. Further, TAP Worldwide argued that because the arbitration agreement specifically stated that continued employment with the company will be deemed voluntary consent to the terms of the arbitration agreement, the plaintiff impliedly agreed to the arbitration provision.
- Written by Carl Larson
Gender identity discrimination in employment may soon become unlawful, or at least that is what the ten states moving to block an Obama directive think. President Obama issued a directive recently which changes the interpretation of sex discrimination to also include gender identity discrimination. Currently, the directive only applies to the educational sector through Title IX, an anti-discrimination law governing most schools and colleges. Although the directive is supposedly aimed at protecting transgender students, as written the directive also applies to school employees. Employers are concerned that this may be a road map for changes which may soon apply to Title VII which governs private employers. The ten states’ suit in Nebraska is accompanied by 13 other states currently suing to block the same directive in a Texas federal court.
With the exception of federal contractors and subcontractors, existing Federal law does not explicitly protect private sector employees from discrimination based on gender identity. However, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), the federal agency tasked with enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws, has taken an increasingly aggressive stance to protect transgender employees from discrimination. Because there is no explicit protection for gender identity, the EEOC has had to rely on cases which recognize that sex discrimination can occur based on non-conformance with sex stereotypes. That is to say, those cases have held that it is unlawful to discriminate against an employee because their actions or appearance do not match those that are typically associated with being male or female. In other words, employers cannot terminate male employees for being too effeminate or women for being too masculine.