Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Civil Rights
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In this appeal by the Rhode Island Troopers Association from a judgment granting declaratory and equitable relief in favor of the State, the Supreme Court affirmed the first six declarations and vacated the remaining two declarations in the superior court’s judgment.Here, the superior court (1) declared that the Governmental Tort Liability Act, R.I. Gen. Laws chapter 31 of title 9, vests the Attorney General with the nondelegable, nontransferable legal duty to determine whether the State should provide a defense and indemnification in a civil action brought against a state employee; and (2) permanently enjoined arbitration of issues related to the Attorney General’s decision to decline to provide a defense and indemnification for a state trooper in a federal civil rights action brought against him in his individual capacity. The Supreme Court held (1) the trial court properly enjoined the arbitration proceedings because the issues raised were not arbitrable within the collective bargaining process; (2) the superior court properly declared that the Attorney General possesses the nondelegable, nontransferable, sole legal duty to determine whether a state employee was acting within the scope of employment and is therefore entitled to a defense and indemnification; and (3) the remaining two declarations were superfluous to the issues in this case. View "State v. Rhode Island Troopers Ass’n" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order compelling arbitration of putative class action claims against AT&T by customers who alleged that AT&T falsely advertised their mobile service plans as "unlimited" when in fact it intentionally slowed data at certain usage levels. The panel held that there was no state action in this case, rejecting plaintiffs' claim that there was state action whenever a party asserts a direct constitutional challenge to a permissive law under Denver Area Educational Telecommunications Consortium, Inc. v. FCC, 518 U.S. 727 (1996). The panel held that Denver Area did not broadly rule that the government was the relevant state actor whenever there was a direct constitutional challenge to a "permissive" statute, and did not support finding state action here. The panel also held that the Federal Arbitration Act merely gives AT&T the private choice to arbitrate, and did not encourage arbitration such that AT&T's conduct was attributable to the state. View "Roberts v. AT&T Mobility, LLC" on Justia Law

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Genovese v. Gallo Wine Merchants, Inc., 628 A.2d 946 (Conn. 1993), which held that, under Con. Gen. Stat. 31-51bb, a factual determination made in a final and binding arbitration conducted pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement does not have a preclusive effect in a subsequent action claiming a constitutional or statutory violation, is still good law.Plaintiff brought the present action alleging that her termination was in retaliation for bringing a previous action against Defendant alleging sex discrimination and for engaging in protected speech. Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that Plaintiff’s claims were barred by the doctrine of collateral estoppel because the factual underpinnings of the claims had been decided against her by the board of mediation in arbitration proceedings. The trial court denied the motion, citing Genovese. Defendant appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, thus declining Defendant’s invitation to overrule Genovese. View "Spiotti v. Wolcott" on Justia Law

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Dayton Public Schools notified Cox of its intent to terminate her employment for allegedly striking a student. An arbitration award, finding just cause for her termination, was handed down on December 10, 2013. The arbitrator e-mailed the decision to the School District attorneys on December 10, but Cox was not included as a recipient of the e-mail. On December 18, 2013, the Board of Education passed a formal resolution adopting the arbitrator’s decision and directed that Cox be served with the order by certified mail. On March 10, 2014, Cox moved to vacate, modify, or correct the arbitration award. The School District argued that notice of a petition seeking the vacation or modification of an arbitration award pursuant to R.C. Chapter 2711 must be received by the adverse party or its attorney within the statutory three-month period contained in R.C. 2711.13. The trial court dismissed. The Court of Appeals reversed; the Supreme Court of Ohio affirmed. The three-month period for service of Cox’s motion began on December 11, 2013. On the same numerical day three months later, Cox sent notice of her motion by certified mail. Service was complete at the time of mailing and was timely. View "Cox v. Dayton Pub. Schs. Bd. of Educ." on Justia Law

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Each of these three consolidated cases originated with the filing of an action in the circuit court asserting claims against nursing home facilities for personal injuries suffered by a nursing home resident, violations of Ky. Rev. Stat. 216.510 et seq., and for wrongful death of the resident. At the time of each resident’s admission to the nursing home, the resident’s attorney-in-fact executed a written document providing that disputes arising out of the relationship between the resident and the nursing home would be submitted to arbitration. When each case was commenced, the defendant nursing home moved the circuit court to compel the parties to submit the claims to a formal arbitration proceeding. The circuit court denied the motion in each case, concluding that the respective power-of-attorney instruments did not authorize the resident’s attorney-in-fact to waive the resident’s right to access to the courts. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) without a clear and convincing manifestation of the principal’s intention to do so, delegation to an agent of the authority to waive a trial by jury is not authorized, and the principal’s assent to the waiver is not validly obtained; and (2) the arbitration agreements in these cases were never validly formed. View "Extendicare Homes, Inc. v. Whisman" on Justia Law

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Appellant was associated with Appellee, Raymond James Financial Services, as a securities broker. After Appellee decided to terminate Appellant’s contract, Appellant brought an arbitration proceeding before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, alleging that he had been fired because of his sexual orientation and his status as a recovering alcoholic, in violation of Vermont law. After granting the parties’ request that Florida law be applied to the proceedings, an arbitration panel awarded Appellant $600,000 in back pay on his claim of discrimination based on disability. The district court vacated the award, concluding that the arbitrators lacked authority to grant the remedy because Appellant brought no claims under Florida law. The First Circuit reversed, holding that although the arbitration decision may have been incorrect as a matter of law, the arbitrators’ decision to impose liability on Appellee under Florida law did not willfully flout the governing law or otherwise exceed the bounds of the arbitrators’ authority to resolve the parties’ dispute. Remanded for entry of an order confirming the arbitration award. View "Raymond James Fin. Servs., Inc. v. Fenyk" on Justia Law

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As a condition of her employment, Employee signed an agreement to arbitrate claims with Employer. Employee later filed a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission (ICRC), alleging that Employer had discriminated against her because of her pregnancy. The ICRC subsequently filed a statement of charges with the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals (DIA). Employer filed a motion to dismiss the ICRC’s charges or, in the alternative, compel arbitration. The DIA denied Employer’s motion on the ground that ICRC was not a party to the arbitration agreement and, consequently, not bound by it. On judicial review, the district court remanded instructions for the ICRC to dismiss the matter pending arbitration by the parties, concluding that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) preempted state law. The Supreme Court reversed, holding the FAA did not require arbitration of this proceeding because it was brought by an entity that was not bound to arbitrate under generally applicable principles of contract law, where the ICRC was not a party to the agreement and its interest was not derivative of Employee’s. View "Rent-A-Center, Inc. v. Iowa Civil Rights Comm’n" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a member of a union, filed a complaint against Defendant, her former employer, alleging that during her employment she was subjected to a hostile work environment on account of her race and color and that she was wrongfully terminated. Defendant filed a motion to stay proceedings, arguing that the proper forum for resolution of Plaintiff’s claims was binding arbitration as required by the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the union and Defendant. A hearing justice granted Defendant’s motion to stay and ordered that the matter be resolved through arbitration. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the hearing justice’s decision was in error because the CBA’s arbitration provision did not preclude her from asserting her statutorily created rights under the Rhode Island Civil Rights Act (RICRA) and Rhode Island Fair Employment Practices Act (FEPA) in a judicial forum. The Supreme Court vacated the order of the superior court, holding that the CBA’s general arbitration provision, which contained no specific reference to the state anti-discrimination statutes at issue, did not constitute a clear and unmistakable waiver of Plaintiff’s right to a judicial forum in which to litigate her claims arising under the RICRA and the FEPA. Remanded.View "Weeks v. 735 Putnam Pike Operations, LLC" on Justia Law

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In 2009, GameStop, Inc., which operated retail stores that sold video games and video gaming software, hired Petitioner as an assistant manager. When she began her employment, Petitioner received a store associate handbook. In a document included with the handbook was an arbitration agreement. Petitioner signed and dated an acknowledgment of the handbook and rules including arbitration. In 2011, Petitioner sued GameStop and some of its managers (collectively, GameStop) for wrongful discharge, sexual harassment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, among other causes of action. The circuit court dismissed the complaint pending Petitioner's submission of her claims to final and binding arbitration. Petitioner appealed, arguing that she did not enter into a valid arbitration with GameStop or, in the alternative, the arbitration agreement was unconscionable and unenforceable. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Petitioner and GameStop entered into a valid agreement to arbitrate Petitioner's claims; and (2) the arbitration agreement was neither procedurally nor substantively unconscionable. View "New v. GameStop, Inc." on Justia Law

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Employee was discharged from his employment for allegedly engaging in sexual harassment. Employee's union filed a grievance against Employer, and the parties submitted the controversy to arbitration. The arbitrator reduced the dismissal to a one year suspension without pay, finding the dismissal was without just cause. Employer filed an application to vacate the arbitral award, claiming that enforcement of the award violated public policy. The trial court granted the application and vacated the arbitrator's award on public policy grounds. The appellate court affirmed, holding that the award violated the public policy against workplace sexual harassment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the public policy against sexual harassment in the workplace required nothing less than Employee's termination. View "State v. AFSCME, Council 4, Local 391" on Justia Law