A California Court of Appeal has upheld an arbitration agreement written in English and signed by employees with limited language ability.
Recent case: Maricela and two other employees who had worked for the Santa Lucia Preserve Co. sued for unpaid wages. The company asked the court to send the case to arbitration, pointing out that they had all signed identical arbitration agreements. The former employees, all Spanish speakers, argued they hadn’t understood what they were signing because it was written in English. They said they would not have given up the right of judicial review if they had understood the agreement.
The appellate court ordered arbitration, noting that the former employees could later contest the arbitrator’s decision, at least as far rights that can’t be waived. (Valdez, et al., v. Santa Lucia Preserve Company, No. H040685, California Court of Appeal, 2015)