Employers Can Force Arbitration

September 4, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A federal appeals court has reversed course - ruling that employers can require prospective employees to sign an arbitration agreement as a condition of employment.

The Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a San Diego law firm didn’t run afoul of the law when it withdrew a job offer to a legal secretary because he balked when asked to agree to arbitration and to give up his rights to sue for workplace discrimination, according to The Recorder.

The lawsuit prompting the latest ruling was filed on behalf of legal secretary Donald Scott Lagatree against the law firm of Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps.

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“Lagatree did not engage in a protected activity when he refused to sign the Luce, Forward arbitration agreement, and consequently, Luce, Forward did not retaliate when it refused to hire him,” Judge Stephen Trott wrote for the court.

The conclusion overturned an earlier Ninth Circuit ruling that workers can’t be sacked for refusing to agree to arbitrate any workplace discrimination claims.

John True III, an Oakland, Calif., employment lawyer at Leonard, Carder, Nathan & Zuckerman, said employers can avoid jury trials by requiring arbitration.