Employment Discrimination, Sexual Harassment (Non-SOX) Claims Are Subject to Arbitration, Court Holds

In Bugtani v. Dish Network LLC, 2019 WL 2914158 (EDNY 2019), the court, inter alia, held that plaintiff’s employment discrimination and sexual harassment claims under Title VII of the New York State and City Human Rights Laws were subject to arbitration.

From the decision:

The arbitration agreement that the plaintiff signed is broad, see Johnston v. Electrum Partners LLC, 2018 WL 3094918, at *10 (S.D.N.Y. June 21, 2018) (citing Mehler v. Terminix Int’l Co. L.P., 205 F.3d 44, 49 (2d Cir. 2000) (clause providing arbitration for “any controversy or claim between [the parties] arising out of or relating to” a contract is “classically broad”)), and the plaintiff’s various discrimination claims relate to her employment and termination.7 While the agreement does not explicitly state that discrimination claims are subject to arbitration, “arbitration clauses may cover statutory claims even if the clause at issue does not mention the specific statutes or statutes in general.” Thomas, 957 F.Supp.3d at 500 (citing Mitsubishi Motors Corp. v. Soler Chrysler-Plymouth, Inc., 473 U.S. 64, 615 (1985) (internal quotations omitted)). Thus, the plaintiff’s discrimination claims are within the scope of arbitration. …

Neither Congress nor the state and city legislatures have precluded Title VII, NYSHRL, and NYCHRL claims from arbitration. See, e.g., Thomas, 957 F. Supp. 2d at 496 (compelling arbitration of an employee’s Title VII, NYSHRL, NYCHRL sex discrimination and retaliation claims); see also Desiderio v. Nat’l Ass’n of Sec. Dealers, Inc., 191 F.3d 198, 206 (2d Cir. 1999) (concluding that the plaintiff failed to show that Congress intended to preclude the waiver of judicial remedies for Title VII claims). Thus, the plaintiff’s discrimination claims are not precluded from arbitration.

However, the court held that plaintiff’s claim under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act was not subject to arbitration, citing authority for the proposition that “Section 922 of that [the Dodd-Frank] Act amended the Sarbanes-Oxley Act to bar the arbitration of whistleblower claims.”