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Monday, August 18, 2014

Johnmohammadi v. Bloomingdales’s: Where Employee Has Opportunity to Opt Out of Arbitration Agreement, Employer Does Not Violate Norris-LaGuardia Act or National Labor Relations Act

A quick word on Johnmohammadi v. Bloomingdales’s, Inc., ___ F.3d ___ (9th Cir. 6/23/14), in which a putative class representative plaintiff appealed from the district court's order granting the defendant's motion to compel individual arbitration of her California wage and hour claims. The Ninth Circuit affirmed, holding as follows:

Where an employer gives an employee thirty days to opt out of an arbitration policy that forbids class-wide arbitration, the employer does not violate either the Norris-LaGuardia Act, 29 U.S.C. § 101 et seq., or the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 151 et seq. Such a policy does not interfere with, restrain, or coerce the employee in the exercise of her right to file a class action. As the Court stated:
If [the employee] wanted to retain [the right to file a class action], nothing stopped her from opting out of the arbitration agreement. [The employer] merely offered her a choice: resolve future employment-related disputes in court, in which case she would be free to pursue her claims on a collective basis; or resolve such disputes through arbitration, in which case she would be limited to pursuing her claims on an individual basis. In the absence of any coercion influencing the decision, we fail to see how asking employees to choose between those two options can be viewed as interfering with or restraining their right to do anything.
Slip op. at 9. 

The opinion is available here.

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