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Notify lawyers quickly about arbitration agreements

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Do you use arbitration agreements to keep disputes out of court? If an employee sues anyway, immediately let your attorney know the employee signed an arbitration agreement.

Otherwise, you may lose the right to move the case to arbitration. Plus, the court won’t appreciate the waste of its time and resources.

Recent case: Aleksan filed a wage-and-hour claim against his former employer, ICC Collision Centers.

When he was hired, he had apparently signed an agreement to arbitrate all employment-related disputes. However, it appears that no one informed ICC’s lawyers that such an agreement existed.

As a result, the case went through extensive and expensive discovery and was scheduled for trial. Only then did a new attorney, who joined the case relatively late in the game, bring the arbitration agreement to the court’s attention.

The court refused to send the case to arbitration on the eve of trial, ruling that the employer had waved the right to enforce the agreement by remaining silent during discovery. It was simply too late.

The case now goes to trial. (Ogannesian v. ICC Collision Centers, No. G04986, Court of Appeal of California, 2016)

Final note: You need a standard plan of action that kicks in as soon as you get wind that an employee has begun legal proceedings against you. Establish a clear process that spells out what should happen as soon as papers are served.

Develop a checklist that includes information to be forwarded to your attorney. For employee lawsuits, that should include a copy of any arbitration or general employment agreements that may have been signed.

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