Federal Court Agrees that Litigation, Not Arbitration, is Proper Under Circumstances of Atlanta Man’s Employment Discrimination Lawsuit

There has been a trend in recent years for certain defendants, including some employers accused of discrimination and retaliatory action in the workplace, to seek arbitration, rather than litigation of Atlanta employment discrimination cases. While there are some situations in which arbitration might be an acceptable alternative to litigation, most plaintiffs prefer to have their day in court. Sometimes, it is necessary to fight for this right, especially when paperwork has allegedly been signed agreeing to arbitration as a condition of employment. In disputed cases, it is up to the court to decide which remedy is appropriate.

Facts of the Case

In a recent unpublished decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, the plaintiff was a man who had worked two short terms as a seasonal employee of the defendant store (both terms of employment occurred during October through January, one in 2015-2016, and the other in 2016-2017). According to the plaintiff’s complaint, he sought permanent employment with the defendant, but this request was denied, as were his other attempts to become a regular, full-time employee of the defendant.

The plaintiff filed suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, asserting that the defendant had refused to engage him in regular employment due to his race, gender, age, and national origin, as well as in retaliation for allegations of discrimination that he made during his seasonal employment. The defendant filed a motion to compel arbitration based on arbitration clauses that the plaintiff allegedly accepted during the outset of his periods of seasonal employment. The district court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

The Circuit Court’s Decision

On appeal, the plaintiff clarified that he did intend to assert a claim based on the denial of his requests to be converted to permanent employment during his periods of seasonal work; rather, allegations regarding those requests were intended merely as background information in his complaint. Thus, the gravamen of the plaintiff’s claims against the defendant concerned the defendant’s denial of his separate applications for employment, which were submitted during times that the plaintiff was not working as a seasonal employee.

As the case proceeded through briefing and oral argument before the court of appeals, the defendant conceded that the arbitration clauses upon which it relied did not cover all of the plaintiff’s claim. Although the defendant insisted that the clauses did cover at least some of the claims at issue, it eventually stated that it no longer wished to arbitrate any of the plaintiff’s claims but, rather, would prefer to have the matter resolved through litigation rather than arbitration.

While acknowledging that there are limits to a party’s ability to, through a voluntary action, force vacatur of an order from which an appeal has been taken, the reviewing court determined that the proper course of action under the circumstances was to vacate the district court’s order compelling arbitration and remand the case to federal district case for litigation of the plaintiff’s various employment law claims.

Talk to an Atlanta Retaliatory Employment Decision Attorney

If you believe that you have been unlawfully discriminated against or been the victim of an adverse employment decision based in retaliation for protected conduct, you need to talk to a lawyer. At the law offices of Parks, Chesin & Walbert, our team of experienced employment discrimination lawyers are here to help you pursue justice in your situation. Call us at 877-986-5529 to set up an appointment to get started on your case. As with any legal matter, time if of the essence, so please do not delay in seeking legal advice about your claim(s).