Appellate Court Confirms that Agreements to Arbitrate Law Against Discrimination Claims are Enforceable
A recent New Jersey Appellate Division decision has confirmed that agreements between employees and employers to arbitrate discrimination or retaliation claims can be enforced, thereby barring employees from bringing such a lawsuit in civil court. In Riley v. Raymour, 2017 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 2651 (App. Div. 2017), the Appellate Division held that an agreement entered between the plaintiff, Ms. Kuashema Riley, and her former employer, Raymour & Flanigan, barred her discrimination and retaliation lawsuit, which was filed in New Jersey Superior Court. The agreement required both parties to arbitrate all disputes between them and, therefore, to waive their right to bring a lawsuit in State or Federal Court. Relying on that agreement, Raymour moved to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Ms. Riley. The trial Court granted the motion, dismissing Ms. Riley’s Complaint. The Appellate Division affirmed, disagreeing with Ms. Riley’s contention that the agreement was unenforceable because it was against public policy.
Moreover, many prior decisions from New Jersey Courts have held such agreements unenforceable, primarily finding fault in the manner in which the agreements were prepared or executed. The Court’s Opinion in this case also provides guidance on how employers may be able to better structure these agreements to increase the chances that they be held enforceable under these types of challenges. For instance, allowing an employee review period, explaining the effect of the agreement on the ability to bring a suit in front of a judge and jury, and providing detailed explanations and instructions regarding the arbitration process, were all favorably cited by the Court in making the determination that the agreement was enforceable.
The Employment Law Attorneys at Hoagland Longo can assist with the preparation of employment agreements as well as the review of existing arbitration provisions to ensure that employers are taking full advantage of the opportunities presented by these and other recent developments in New Jersey employment law. Our attorneys can also provide review and counseling services regarding any agreements your employer may ask you to sign. Please contact Aron Mandel at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 732-545-4717 to discuss how Hoagland Longo can be of assistance.