Many employers throughout the state are defaulting to a requirement that all employees sign arbitration agreements. Your human resource representative might gloss over the agreement with the explanation that it means you can’t sue your employer, but that’s not actually true. You still might have the right to sue an employer if you believe you were wrongfully terminated. The employer, however, has the ability to assert its arbitration rights.
Employers don’t always assert those rights, for whatever reason, and if they don’t do so in a timely manner, the request for arbitration isn’t always upheld by the courts. In a recent case in another state, an employee filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against his employer. The employer filed a number of motions and documents in the case, including a motion to move the case to California.
Eight months after the original filing — and after the motion to transfer was denied — the employer finally filed a motion to compel arbitration. Both the lower and appellate court denied that motion. The appellate court stated that the employer waited too long and affirmed its intentions to go forward with litigation in a number of ways prior to asking for arbitration.
In short, it’s not an “either/or” decision, and employers aren’t always able to switch to arbitration after certain litigation tactics have failed. It should also be noted that the plaintiff has a similar decision to make, and could probably not switch to arbitration after filing a lawsuit and going forward with certain motions either.
If you are dealing with a wrongful termination and you aren’t sure whether you should file a lawsuit, talk to an employment lawyer today. Even if you signed an arbitration agreement, you have legal rights and options to consider.
Source: HR.BLR, “Wait-and-see approach is no excuse for failing to assert arbitration rights,” Lauren M. Krueger, Aug. 22, 2016