Georgia Woman Must Arbitrate Age and Disability Claims, According to Federal Court

Employees who believe that they have been discriminated against due to age by a current, former, or potential employer may assume that they will eventually have their day in court if they file an Atlanta age discrimination claim.

While the United States Constitution does guarantee the right to a jury trial in some situations, the right to have a jury determine the issues in a civil case is not universal. For one thing, an employee many be asked to forfeit his or her right to a jury trial as a condition of employment.

If the worker signs an arbitration agreement prior to going to work for a certain employer, it is highly likely that any disputes between the parties will eventually be settled through arbitration rather than litigation.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case arising in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, Augusta Division, the plaintiff was a former employee of the defendant drug store. After receiving a right-to-sue notice from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in response to her claims of age and disability claims, the brought suit seeking legal redress under both the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 621-634, and the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12112-12117. The defendant filed a motion to compel arbitration.

The Court’s Ruling on Appeal

The federal district court granted the defendant’s motion to compel arbitration, thereby dismissing the plaintiff’s case without prejudice and submitting all of her employment discrimination claims to arbitration. Under the Federal Arbitration Act, arbitration agreements were on equal footing with other types of contracts. Such agreements were valid and enforceable unless there was a specific legal or equitable reason for their revocation.

Generally speaking, the Act applied to any arbitration agreement that involved interstate commerce. In order to meet this threshold, the moving party need only have shown that the employer’s overall employment practices affect interstate commerce. In the case at bar, the defendant employed workers across the country, such that its employment practices, at least in the aggregate, affected interstate commerce.

The next question addressed by the court was whether the parties had actually agreed to arbitrate the issues in dispute. Here, there was a presumption in favor of arbitrability such that the court’s opinion was that the issues were to be deemed arbitrable unless there was clear evidence that such issues were to be excluded. After finding that the parties had expressed no intention to exclude the claims at bar from arbitration, the court ruled that the plaintiff wrongful employment termination claims fell within the arbitration agreement submitted by the defendant.

Hire an Experienced Atlanta Attorney

To schedule a consultation with a helpful Atlanta age discrimination lawyer, please call the attorneys of Parks, Chesin & Walbert today at 877-986-5529. It is important that you take action to assert your legal rights in a timely fashion, as there are deadlines for making a claim in employment discrimination cases. Our attorneys also handle race and color discrimination, national origin discrimination, disability discrimination, and religious discrimination cases, as well as sexual harassment lawsuits and claims pertaining to a hostile work environment.