Tuesday, October 22, 2013

CBA Not Clear Enough to Make FEHA Claims Arbitrable

Mendez v. Mid-Wishire Health Care Center, No. B243144 (D2d7 Oct. 15, 2013)

Relying on U.S. Supreme Court precedent, the court of appeal holds that an arbitration clause in a collective bargaining agreement did not apply to a fired employee’s statutory claims under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Although there generally is a presumption that claims arising out of a collective bargaining agreement are arbitrable, that presumption does not apply to statutory employment discrimination claims. A collective bargaining agreement can make such claims arbitrable, but it must clearly reflect an express intention to do so. The court notes that the U.S. Supreme Court cases that state that rule, such as Wright v. Universal Maritime Service Corp., 525 U.S. 70 (1998), have not been overruled by AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion, ___ U.S. ___, 131 S. Ct. 1740 (2011), which placed preemption limits on state law rules of contract interpretation that unequally burden arbitration agreements. Thus, because the collective bargaining agreement in this case lacked the requisite clear expression to make FEHA claims arbitrable, the trial court did not err in declining to compel these claims to arbitration. 

Affirmed.

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