Statutory Discrimination Claims Held Not Subject to Arbitration Agreement

In Agostini v. EmblemHealth, Inc. et al, 16-cv-7119, 2018 WL 3350324 (S.D.N.Y. July 9, 2018), the court held that plaintiff was entitled to pursue her claims in federal court, notwithstanding the existence of an arbitration provision in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between her union and her employer.

Here’s the law, as summarized by the court:

Unions may negotiate a waiver of the judicial forum for their members’ statutory employment discrimination claims. See 14 Penn Plaza LLC v. Pyett, 556 U.S. 247, 258-59 (2009). A court will not, however, “infer from a general contractual provision that the parties intended to waive a statutorily protected right unless” the waiver is “clear and unmistakable.” Wright v. Universal Maritime Serv. Corp., 525 U.S. 70, 80 (1998) (citation omitted). An arbitration provision clearly and unmistakably waives a federal forum if it either “explicitly compel[s] arbitration of statutory (as opposed to contractual) causes of action” or “incorporate[s] specific antidiscrimination statutes.

Applying the law, the court concluded that the CBA did not satisfy either standard, as it “does not refer to any statutory antidiscrimination statute” and, therefore, since it “does not clearly and unmistakably require arbitration of statutory discrimination claims, Agostini is entitled to litigate those claims in federal court.”

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