In Malone v. Super. Ct., ___ Cal.App.4th ___ (June 17, 2014), the California Court of Appeal (Second Appellate District, Division Three) upheld the order of the Los Angeles County Superior Court (Judge Highberger) granting defendant’s motion to compel arbitration of plaintiff’s wage and hour class action claims.
Plaintiff was a “wires specialist” who acknowledged receipt of an employee handbook when she began working for defendant employer. That handbook contained an arbitration agreement / class action waiver which provided “[t]he arbitrator has exclusive authority to resolve any dispute relating to the interpretation, applicability, or enforceability of this binding arbitration agreement” (a so-called “delegation clause”). Plaintiff later filed a class action lawsuit asserting numerous wage and hour violations. Defendant then moved to compel arbitration and plaintiff opposed, arguing that the arbitration agreement, including the delegation clause was unconscionable. The court disagreed and granted the motion. Plaintiff then requested interlocutory review.
The appellate court upheld the ruling, finding that the delegation clause was not unconscionable: “[the delegation clause is not inherently unfair – it is not unilateral; it does not provide for a biased decisionmaker. Moreover, the clause is clear and unmistakable; and it is not hidden in fine print in a prolix form. We are simply concerned with a clause which may have been outside the reasonable expectations of the party signing a contract of adhesion. This is not overly harsh or so one-sided as to shock the conscience.”