Archive for the ‘Arbitration Agreements’ Category

Arbitration agreements have been gradually inserting themselves into all aspects of our lives. Many of our consumer contracts now have arbitration provisions that require you to arbitrate your legal disputes rather than go before a judge or jury. Arbitration requires you to have your case heard by an arbitrator, typically with little opportunity for discovery and usually with very few avenues for appeallate review.

When you first become employed by your employer, many times you receive a very tall packet of documents to sign, sometimes these documents you sign include an arbitration agreement. What this means is that if you are fired or suffer discrimination, in most cases, you will have to have your claims resolved by arbitration rather than in court.

There are some ways to attempt to avoid the enforcment of these employment arbitraiton agreeements, but it is not an easy task. Florida Courts and courts in other jurisdicitons have regularly been enforcing these types of provisions. Take the recent Fourth District Court of Appeal case of AMS Staff Leasing, Inc. v. Robert F. Taylor In the AMS Staff Leasing Case, the Fourth District Court of Appeal looked at whether an employment arbitration agreement was enforceable. While workers compensation matters are typcially not subject to arbitration, a case for wrongful discharge based upon a workers compensation case under Fla. Stat. 440.205 was held to be arbitrable. The Court also evaluated whether the arbitration agreement was unsconcsionable. Courts evalaute arbitration provisions based upon procedural and substantive unsconscionability. Under substantive unconscionability, an employee can argue that an agreement is not enforceable where it does not provide the same remedies available to an employee under federal and state laws. Under procedural unconscionability, the Courts evaluate whether the employee was given a fair opportunity to review the document and understand its contents. In the AMS case, the Court determined that the agreement in question was enforceable.

The bottom line is if you are presented with one of these agrements with your employer, try to have an lawyer review it and advise you of your rights. Even if you did sign one, there are arguments that can be made to avoid their enforcement.

Feel free to call a lawyer to discuss this matter further and Behren Law Firm can discuss these issues with you.

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Over the years, most employees have always been excited about the prospects of starting a brand new job. That excitement I’m sure is even more magnified today where there are so few jobs to be had by those searching for them. In the flurry of excitement of starting a new job, the employee is usually given a very large pile of papers to sign and in most cases those papers are not explained to the employee so the employee signs them without question. It is this mystery pile of papers that usually contains the documents that come to haunt employees at later times. It is this pile of documents that typically contains the non-compete agreement. It is also this pile of documents that typically contains the dreaded arbitration agreement.

What is arbitration? For those who don’t know its a process where an employee agrees to allow a private person to decide your legal claims against your employer rather than a judge or jury. It is usually a more expedited process without the opportunity to conduct full discovery, as you would in court, and without the opportunity to have your case heard by a jury of your peers. In many cases, the filing fees are higher than to file a court case and in many cases the employee and employer are responsible to pay, on an hourly basis for the services of the arbitrator. These arbitrators can sometimes charge anywhere from $300 to $500 per hour. While in my experience it is a quicker way to resolve disputes, it is usually more favorable to the employer. Thus, the reason why so many employers try to get their employees to sign these agreements.
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