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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

California Supreme Court Will Review Arbitration Decision

The California Supreme Court has granted review in Sonic-Calabasas A, Inc. v. Moreno (2009) 94 Cal.Rptr.3d 544, which held that an employee who signs an otherwise valid pre-dispute arbitration agreement may not pursue his claims for unpaid vacation pay in front of the Labor Commissioner. The Court of Appeal held that the plaintiff waived his right to a Labor Commissioner hearing, and that enforcement of the waiver was not barred by Armendariz v. Foundation Health Psychcare Services, Inc. (2000) 24 Cal.4th 83, or Gentry v. Superior Court (2007) 42 Cal.4th 443. The Supreme Court framed the issues to be decided as follows:
(1) Can a mandatory employment arbitration agreement be enforced prior to the conclusion of an administrative proceeding conducted by the Labor Commissioner concerning an employee's statutory wage claim?

(2) Was the Labor Commissioner's jurisdiction over employee's statutory wage claim divested by the Federal Arbitration Act under Preston v. Ferrer (2008) 552 U.S. 346, 128 S.Ct. 978, 169 L.Ed.2d 917?
The Supreme Court's docket is available here. It will be interesting to see whether the Court puts this case on track with Pearson Dental, a case discussing similar issues in the context of the Fair Employment and Housing Act.

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