Today, the Retail Litigation Center (RLC) joined the Equal Employment Advisory Council and the Chamber of Commerce for the United States of America in a brief amicus curiae asking the Supreme Court of the United States urging the court to grant certiorari to reaffirm the enforceability of employment arbitration agreements with class waivers in accordance with existing jurisprudence. In addition, the brief asks the court to address the continued hostility toward arbitration exhibited by the California courts to ensure uniform application of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), which governs this issue, in all states as set forth in the Court’s landmark AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion decision.
In CarMax Auto Superstores California, LLC, et al. v John Wade Fowler, et al., the California Court of Appeals barred enforcement of an existing employment arbitration agreement that included a class waiver, in favor of class action. In so doing, the Court of Appeals improperly ignored the FAA, instead using state law as a basis to invalidate the agreement.
“Choosing not to enforce arbitration agreements as written, based on policy grounds, has time and again been found to run afoul of the FAA,” said Deborah White, president, Retail Litigation Center. “The Supreme Court should embrace this opportunity to reaffirm the preeminence of the FAA over state laws and end the hostility of California courts toward accepted dispute resolution practices, including arbitration and class waivers. Allowing the creation of a separate set of standards for specific contracts in a specific state threatens to undermine standards regarding the enforceability of contracts across the country.”
From the brief filed with the Supreme Court of the United States:
“Where a court attempts to invalidate an arbitration agreement containing a class waiver provision purely on policy grounds, it acts in contravention of the FAA, as well as this Court’s repeated reaffirmation of the national, pro-arbitration public policy the FAA embodies.”
“Imposing class action procedures on parties who expressly agreed to waive such procedures in favor of bilateral arbitration changes the nature of arbitration to such a degree that it becomes a burden on the parties, rather than a means of resolving their dispute efficiently and in a less costly manner.”
“Without definitive guidance from this Court, lower courts in California and elsewhere will be free to side-step Concepcion and Italian Colors in employment cases, making it profoundly difficult, if not impossible, for employers to maintain alternative dispute resolution programs containing a bilateral arbitration component.”
The complete brief can be found HERE. The brief was written by the EEAC General Counsel Rae T. Vann, Norris, Tysse, Lampley & Lakis, LLP.
The Retail Litigation Center is a public policy organization that identifies and engages in legal proceedings which affect the retail industry. The RLC, whose members include some of the country’s largest retailers, was formed to provide courts with retail industry perspectives on significant legal issues, and highlight the potential industry-wide consequences of legal principles that may be determined in pending cases.