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Hatkoff v. Portland Adventist Medical Center

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 09-12-2012
Case #: A143162
Haselton, C.J. for the Court; Armstrong, P.J.; and Duncan, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/Publications/A143162.pdf

Alternative Dispute Resolution: A prescribed grievance and arbitration procedure will not be found unconscionable when the means used to gain plaintiff's agreement to the procedure were themselves not unconscionable.

Hatkoff appealed his employment age discrimination action from a general dismissal by the trial court. At age 65, Hatkoff’s employment was terminated, for which Portland Adventist cited financial reasons. Hatkoff questioned the reason for his termination and Portland Adventist responded by denying any discriminatory motive, but directed Hatkoff to the “Grievance and Arbitration Procedure” in the Employee Handbook. Hatkoff filed an age discrimination action under ORS 659A.030 instead of following the arbitration procedure, arguing that the grievance process was unconscionable and therefore unenforceable. Portland Adventist showed that Hatkoff was presented with an employee handbook that he read and signed. The Court of Appeals held that the Arbitration Procedure allowed Hatkoff to pursue arbitration after he had exhausted the grievance process and that the effect of the grievance process was not “impermissibly one-sided”; therefore, it was not substantively unconscionable. The Court continued that because the arbitration procedure was not hidden from Hatkoff, it was also not procedurally unconscionable. Affirmed.