In another case out of the Fourth Appellate District and the Superior Court of Orange County, Mitri v. Arnel Management Company, the plaintiff sued her former employer and owner and supervisors for sexual discrimination and harassment. The company tried to compel arbitration on the ground that each employee signed their employee handbook which stated “As a condition of employment, all employees are required to sign an arbitration agreement.”
Unfortunately for the company, it could not produce evidence of signed arbitration agreements. The court ruled that the handbook’s reference to arbitration was insufficient to force a plaintiff to arbitrate their claims “in large part because the handbook claimed that it was not a contract of employment and thus, unenforceable.”
Lesson learned: If you’re going to have arbitration agreements, provide them as stand-alone documents, make sure that counsel reviews them first, provide a consideration for signing them, and keep copies.