Court Declines to Compel Arbitration of Employment Claims Against Trump Campaign

Jessica Denson, who worked for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign during the 2016 presidential election, asserted claims in a lawsuit – captioned Denson v. Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., Supreme Court, New York County, Index No. 101616/2017 (Sept. 7, 2018) – based on alleged mistreatment (including attempts to “find dirt on” her, cyberbullying, and harassment).

Defendant moved to compel arbitration, relying on an arbitration provision in an agreement she signed. The court held that the arbitration provision did not bar her claims.

The arbitration clause in question provides:

Without limiting the Company’s or any other Trump Person’s right to commence a lawsuit in a court of competent jurisdiction in the State of New York, any dispute arising under or relating to this agreement may, at the sole discretion of each Trump Person, be submitted to binding arbitration in the State of New York pursuant to the rules for commercial arbitrations of the American Arbitration Association, and you hereby agree to and will not contest such submissions. Judgment upon the award rendered by an arbitrator may be entered in any court having jurisdiction.

In denying defendant’s motion, the court explained:

This Court’s decision takes no position on the enforceability of any provisions of the agreement. Instead, this Court finds that the agreement was for a specific purpose – to prohibit plaintiff from doing certain things – and the arbitration clause states it only applies to that agreement. It does not apply to plaintiff’s employment generally or to her ability to pursue the claims alleged in this lawsuit. To embrace that broad reading would be in contravention of the text of the agreement. Quite simply, the agreement only regulates plaintiff’s behavior; it does not address defendant’s behavior. Therefore, it is not applicable to plaintiffs current claims.

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