Today, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, No. 16-285 that employers could lawfully require employees to waive their rights to pursue employment-related class actions through arbitration agreements providing for individualized proceedings. In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that such waivers do not violate the National Labor Relations Act.
Two California district court decisions, the most recent issued in January, have set the stage for the Ninth Circuit to rule on when courts may require plaintiffs to arbitrate ERISA fiduciary breach claims. In March 2017, the Central District of California held in Munro v. University of Southern California that plaintiffs who had signed employment agreements requiring arbitration could nevertheless pursue their claims in court. The court reasoned that the plaintiffs, all ERISA plan participants, brought the claims on behalf of plans, which had not consented to arbitration. Weeks ago, in Dorman v. Charles Schwab & Co., Inc., the Northern District of California concluded that it would not compel arbitration even where an arbitration provision was written into the plan itself. Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Set to Weigh in on Whether Defendants May Compel Arbitration of ERISA Claims
Yesterday the Second Circuit cast doubt on whether an arbitrator can certify a class that includes absent class members. The court remanded for the district court to decide “whether the arbitrator exceeded her authority in certifying a class that contained absent class members who have not opted in.” Jock v. Sterling Jewelers, Inc., No. 15-3947-cv (2d Cir. July 24, 2017). The case poses potentially big implications for class arbitration’s ability to resolve cases with finality.