Sleight of Hand Not Allowed

Arbitration Agreements – Sleight of Hand Not Allowed

Avery v. Integrated Healthcare Holdings

The California Court of Appeal recently considered whether or not plaintiffs seeking to pursue claims as a class for wage and hour violations could be compelled to arbitrate claims based on a series of documents purporting to reflect acknowledgements to arbitrate such claims. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court decision finding no enforceable arbitration agreement existed because the incomplete and confusing patchwork of documents Defendant relied upon were not sufficient to establish an agreement to arbitrate. The Court reasoned that Defendant needed to demonstrate that plaintiffs agreed to the specific arbitration agreement that Defendant contended bound plaintiffs to arbitrate their claims. Because none of the documents referred to the specific employee handbook used as the source of the arbitration policy, the Court found that even if plaintiffs signed the acknowledgements, the acknowledgements were not sufficient to establish that plaintiffs had agreed to the arbitration policy.