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Put teeth in your arbitration agreements! Make sure employees acknowledge them

by on
in Employment Law,FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

If you use mandatory arbitration agreements, take the extra time to make sure courts will enforce them.

In New York, that means showing that the applicant or employee knew that getting and keeping her job required agreeing to arbitration of all employment disputes.

The best way to prove the employee signed on willingly is to refer to the arbitration requirement in the employment application—and again when the employee accepts the position. Highlight the agreement and have your new hire sign an acknowledgment. Either provide the employee with a copy of the agreement or give clear directions on how to get a paper or electronic copy.

Recent case: Nadia Josie-Delerme, who worked for American General Finance, claimed the company had discriminated against her because she became pregnant and denied her appropriate FMLA leave.

When she sued, the company asked the court to send the case to arbitration, since it included an agreement to arbitrate all employment disputes in its initial application and emphasized it at new-employee orientation. Plus, the company showed it also reminded employees that continued employment was contingent on agreeing to arbitrate all disputes.

The court sent the case to arbitration, noting that the company had been very clear about arbitration as a condition of employment. (Josie-Delerme v. American General Finance, No. 08-CV-3166, ED NY, 2009)

Final note: Always have an attorney review your arbitration agreement. He or she can best tell you how to introduce and use arbitration.

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