Johnmohammadi v. Bloomingdale’s

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Employment Law
  • Date Filed: 06-23-2014
  • Case #: 12-55578
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Watford for the Court; Circuit Judge Noonan and Chief District Judge W. Smith
  • Full Text Opinion

An arbitration clause in an employment contract that disallows class action arbitration is valid where the employee has the opportunity to opt-out of the clause.

Fatemeh Johnmohammadi was hired by Bloomingdale’s as a sales associate. At the time she was hired she was presented with documentation by Bloomingdale’s that included an arbitration clause. The clause indicated that if she did not opt-out within thirty days of her hiring she agreed to resolve all employment-related disputes through arbitration. The clause did not allow for class action arbitration. Johnmohammadi did not return the opt-out form and thus became bound by the terms of the arbitration agreement. She subsequently filed a class action lawsuit to recover unpaid overtime wages from Bloomingdale’s. The court considered the Norris-LaGuardia Act and the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Both acts essentially declare that any promise in conflict with public policy shall not be enforceable in any court in the United States. Johnmohammadi argues that her filing of a class action lawsuit is one of the “other concerted activities” protected by the Norris-LaGuardia Act and the NLRA. The district court noted that in order for Johnmohammadi to prevail she would have to show that Bloomingdale’s interfered with, restrained, or coerced her in the exercise of her right to file a class action. Ultimately, the court determined that she was not coerced by Bloomingdale’s. She had the ability to opt-out of the clause, she was informed of the consequences of not opting-out, there were not threats of retaliation if she did opt-out, etc. The panel affirmed the court’s decision here along with stating that Johnmohammadi’s additional arguments were unpersuasive as she lacked the evidence to show that Bloomingdale’s was offering any benefit for not opting-out of the clause or curtailing an employee’s freedom of choice. AFFIRMED.

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