Tuesday, March 26, 2019
Court of Appeal:
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Court of Appeal for this district has reversed an order denying a motion to compel arbitration, declaring that the fact an employee signed an arbitration agreement after bringing suit did not preclude applying the agreement to the existing action.
Div. Six yesterday certified for publication, with modifications, its Feb. 26 opinion reversing Ventura Superior Court Judge Kevin G. DeNoce’s determination that plaintiff Maureen Salgado need not submit her employment discrimination suit against Carrows Restaurants Group, Inc. to arbitration.
She sued on Nov. 22, 2016, and signed an arbitration agreement on Dec. 7, 2016.
Presiding Justice Arthur Gilbert wrote:
“We conclude the language of the arbitration agreement is sufficient to apply to the current action. But we remand to determine a factual issue where time is not relative, but relevant. Did Carrows know that at the time plaintiff employee signed an arbitration agreement, plaintiff was represented by counsel?”
Wording of Agreement
The agreement provides:
“The Company and I agree and acknowledge that we will utilize binding arbitration as the sole and exclusive means to resolve all disputes which  may arise out of or  be related in any way to my application for employment and/or employment....”
Salgado argued, and DeNoce held, that the words, “may arise out of” envision prospective application. Gilbert said:
“Salgado focuses only on one phrase in the arbitration agreement. But the word ‘or’ shows that there is an alternative….Each phrase must be considered…. The second phrase following ‘or’ broadly applies to ‘all disputes’ related “in any way” to employment. This language is ‘clear and explicit.’…Salgado’s current action is a dispute that falls within the meaning of this provision.”
Another provision on the agreement, Gilbert said, applies; under it, Salgado agreed to arbitrate “any claim” against the company.
Issues on Remand
On remand, Gilbert said, enforceability of the agreement must be considered. Pointing to a declaration by Salgado’s lawyer, Ruben M. Ruiz, he declared:
“He said he was representing Salgado in this lawsuit. It had been filed and served on Carrows’s “restaurant manager” before the arbitration agreement was signed. He did not have a chance to consult with Salgado before she signed it, and he did not know she had signed it until ‘late Spring 2017.’ Whether these or other facts support a claim that the arbitration agreement is unenforceable should be decided by the trial court.”
The case is Salgado v. Carrows Restaurants, Inc., B285756.
Copyright 2019, Metropolitan News Company