It is not uncommon for an employer to ask an employee to sign a contract at the onset of a job that defines the terms of employment. It is critical for employees to thoroughly review any contract they are presented with, however, as in some instances, the contract may require an employee to waive certain rights. This was demonstrated in a recent employment discrimination case filed in New York, in which the court ordered the parties to proceed to arbitration based upon the terms of the plaintiffs’ employment contracts. If you suffered discrimination in the workplace, it is prudent to confer with a diligent New York employment discrimination attorney to discuss your rights and your potential avenues for seeking damages.
It is reported that both plaintiffs signed employment contracts when they were hired by the defendant, a media company. The contracts included provisions that stated that any alleged violation of federal or state laws that could not be resolved informally would be resolved via arbitration. Ultimately, the plaintiffs filed a joint lawsuit against the defendant, setting forth claims of discrimination on the basis of color, race, and gender. The defendant then filed a motion to stay the lawsuit and to compel the plaintiffs to proceed to arbitration pursuant to the terms of the employment contract.
Determining Whether to Compel Arbitration of Employment Discrimination Claims
Under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), an agreement to arbitrate is irrevocable, valid, and enforceable. As such, the FAA allows a party wronged by the failure to arbitrate an issue pursuant to a written agreement to petition a court for an order directing arbitration to proceed in the manner set forth in the agreement. A party will be deemed to refuse to arbitrate pursuant to the FAA if the party files a lawsuit in a state or federal court.