Articles Posted in Sex Discrimination

If you’ve been the victim of discrimination at work or have otherwise been wrongfully terminated from your job, you obviously face many challenges and numerous stresses in your life. One of them may be an employer who seeks to prevent you from getting your day in court by instead forcing your dispute into arbitration. Don’t let that happen without a fair legal fight, and don’t try to handle that stressful challenge on your own. Be sure you have an experienced Oakland employment attorney on your side advocating for you.

Recently, the case of a San Francisco law partner who alleged that she was the victim of sex discrimination was again in the news, as mid-June 2019 brought the filing of a flurry of amicus briefs supporting the employer in this case. To recap, the California Court of Appeal ruled in favor the employee last year, concluding that the employer was not entitled to demand that the two sides resolve their Fair Employment and Housing Act dispute through arbitration, even though the partner’s agreement with the firm called for arbitration of disputes like FEHA discrimination claims. (In this circumstance, the partner had alleged that the firm had effectively forced her out of her job due to her being a woman.)

The reason that the partner won in the appeals court was a legal concept that is known as “unconscionability.” In contract law, a contract or contract provision is unconscionable if it is so one-sided as to be unreasonable. The partner’s arbitration agreement was not enforceable because it contained unconscionable terms related to payment of arbitration costs and attorneys’ fees. It also contained an unconscionable confidentiality term that could impair the lawyer’s ability to interview witnesses.

Many times, employers will seek to resolve Fair Employment and Housing Act discrimination disputes through arbitration as opposed to litigation. They do this because they believe that the arbitration process will be cheaper than litigation and that the resolution will be more favorable than they would receive in court. For a multitude of reasons, you, as an employee, might prefer to present your case to a jury or judge, not an arbitration panel. The key, then, is avoiding being forced into arbitration, such as by a mandatory arbitration provision in your employment contract. For options on achieving these and other goals in your discrimination case, contact an experienced Oakland employment attorney.

Sometimes, there are ways to avoid arbitration even if you signed an arbitration agreement. Take the case of C.R. C.R., who would eventually become the plaintiff in the case, was someone who had amassed an impressive resume. She had a law degree from UC-Berkeley and a Ph.D. in biophysics from the same institution. Her experiences in the law and the sciences in the Bay Area allowed her to obtain a substantial position as a patent lawyer with a prestigious law firm in 2014. The attorney’s title was described as an “income partner.”

Shortly after she started work, she signed a partnership agreement. That agreement contained an arbitration provision in it that she was required to handle disputes first by submitting them to “mandatory, but non-binding, mediation.” If the dispute remained unresolved after 60 days, then either side could submit the dispute to binding arbitration.