Esensten Law Obtains Court of Appeal Victory for All Employees
Esensten Law earned another victory on behalf of employees in a class action in a published Court of Appeal decision that will benefit employees for years to come. Due to the relatively small amount of damages that an employee has against his employer for unpaid wages, a class action is often the only cost-efficient means of vindicating employee rights. Unfortunately, employers have been using arbitration clauses containing class action waivers and class arbitration prohibitions within employment agreements as a license to systematically deny their employees’ rights and not pay wages due without fear of repercussions. The Court of Appeal decision obtained by Esensten Law will significantly limit employers' ability to do so by reestablishing the ability of employees to vindicate their rights in a class action setting against their employers.
On October 26, 2015, the California Court of Appeal affirmed the denial of an employer's motion to compel arbitration of employees’ individual claims. Esensten Law filed the class action lawsuit on behalf of the truck driver employees against their employer for failing to permit their employees to take their meal breaks. In the trial court, the employer attempted to avoid the class action by seeking to compel arbitration of the named plaintiff’s individual claims, but Esensten Law successfully opposed the employer’s motion.
The California Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s denial of the employer’s motion to compel arbitration. In doing so, the Court of Appeal made three holdings that will significantly limit an employer’s ability to use arbitration clauses as a means of avoiding class actions and systematically denying the rights of its employees. First, the Court of Appeal properly recognized that the Federal Arbitration Act does not apply to truck drivers and other employees in the transportation industry even if the truck driver is delivering the goods of his employer rather than a third party. Second, an employer cannot avoid the exemption of transportation workers from the Federal Arbitration Act by forcing employees to agree to contract terms that seek to apply the Federal Arbitration Act. Third, the Court of Appeal held that, under California law, employers are prohibited from compelling arbitration as a means of interfering with employees’ ability to vindicate unwaivable rights, including their rights to meal breaks.
The Court of Appeal opinion can be located here.
The case is entitled Garrido v. Air Liquide Industrial U.S. LP, Case Number B254490.