Jaspan Schlesinger LLP Successfully Compels Arbitration of Union Member's Employment Claims
On August 27, 2015, Judge Denis R. Hurley of the United States District Court of the Eastern District of New York granted an employer's motion to compel arbitration of an employee's discrimination and wage and hour claims pursuant to the terms of a collective bargaining agreement ("CBA"). Jaspan Schlesinger LLP Partners Jessica M. Baquet and Stanley A. Camhi represented the employer in Lawrence v. Sol G. Atlas Realty Co., 14-cv-3616.
In June 2014, the employee brought a federal lawsuit against his employer alleging discrimination and retaliation in violation of federal and state law. The employer moved to dismiss the employee's complaint and to compel arbitration pursuant to the terms of the CBA. The employee opposed the motion, arguing that his union had not effectively waived his right to bring statutory discrimination claims in court because the CBA did not list any federal or state statutes to which the arbitration provision applied. Jaspan Schlesinger LLP countered that the CBA's provisions were clearly intended to require arbitration of statutory discrimination claims, because they prohibited discrimination in violation of "applicable law" and mandated that violations of the prohibition on discrimination were subject to arbitration.
Magistrate Judge Gary R. Brown, in a Report and Recommendation, agreed with Jaspan Schlesinger LLP's argument. The employee objected to the Magistrate's Report, which was then reviewed by Judge Hurley. Judge Hurley also agreed with Jaspan Schlesinger LLP's argument, and concluded that the employee's claims were subject to arbitration because the CBA did not "simply [contain] a broad separate arbitration clause providing that disputes under the CBA shall be arbitrated. Rather, the no discrimination clause in this CBA specifies that disputes under the no discrimination clause are subject to arbitration in accordance with the CBA’s arbitration provision, pursuant to which arbitration is the exclusive method for determination of disputes." The fact that federal and state anti-discrimination statutes were not listed by name or citation did not change the outcome.