Age, Gender Discrimination Claims Against Barclays Capital Subject to Binding Arbitration, Court Holds

In Tsoflias v. Barclays Capital Inc., 2018 Ny slip Op 31184(U), 2018 WL 2971165 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. June 6, 2018), the court held that, in light of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Epic Sys. Corp. v Lewis, plaintiff’s claims of age and gender-based discrimination were subject to an arbitration agreement, and thus granted defendant’s motion to compel arbitration and stay the action.

In this case, the plaintiff (following her termination) sued her employer alleging gender discrimination, age discrimination, and retaliation. Unfortunately for her, in an offer letter, plaintiff agreed to individually arbitrate “any dispute or controversy arising under or in connection with [her] employment, including any dispute regarding…the termination of [her] employment” and “any and all claims arising under…municipal discrimination.”

The court explained: “To determine whether a dispute is arbitrable, a court must examine: (1) whether there exists a valid agreement to arbitrate at all under the contract in question … and if so, (2) whether the particular dispute sought to be arbitrated falls within the scope of the arbitration agreement.”

As to the first element, the court cited the Supreme Court’s recent decision in (Epic Sys. Corp. v Lewis, No. 16-285, 2018 WL 2292444 [U.S. May 21, 2018], which held that “class action waivers in arbitration agreements do not violate the NLRA and must be enforced as written.” Plaintiff opposed the motion to compel arbitration by relying on the defense that arbitration provisions that waive class and collective actions are illegal, and did not otherwise raise fraud, duress, or unconscionability as a defense. It concluded that “[b]ecause the United States Supreme Court has now resolved plaintiff’s only defense to compelling arbitration, plaintiff’s opposition is unavailing.”

The second element was also met. Here, plaintiff “agreed to individually arbitrate any employment dispute” and since “[t]he instant claims involve termination from employment based on discrimination” her “claims fall within the scope of the arbitration agreement.”

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