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Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division
December 8, 2021, Submitted; February 15, 2022, Decided
DOCKET NO. A-1983-20
The opinion of the court was delivered by
Plaintiff Gilbert Antonucci appeals from an order compelling arbitration and dismissing with prejudice his discrimination complaint against his former employer and two of its employees. This appeal presents two questions: (1) whether the parties entered a binding agreement to arbitrate their employment disputes; and (2) whether the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. §§ 1-16, pre-empts a 2019 amendment to New Jersey's Law Against Discrimination (LAD), N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 to - 50, that prohibits the waiver of procedural and substantive rights under LAD. That second question is an issue of first impression in this court.
We hold that the arbitration agreement is binding and that LAD's procedural prohibition, which would preclude arbitration, is pre-empted when applied to an arbitration agreement governed by the FAA. [*2] Nevertheless, we vacate the order entered by the Law Division and remand for the entry of a new order. Contrary to section 3 of the FAA, 9 U.S.C. § 3, the order on appeal dismissed plaintiff's complaint with prejudice rather than stay the litigation. We, therefore, remand for the entry of a new order compelling arbitration and staying the Law Division action until the arbitration is completed.
In December 2010, plaintiff was hired as a field engineer by SMS Systems Maintenance Services, Inc. (SMS). In 2017, SMS merged with Curvature Newco, Inc. (defendant or Curvature) and the combined entity used the Curvature name.
In October 2019, Curvature sent plaintiff an electronic version of the company's Codes of ethics and conduct and Employee Handbook (the Handbook). Plaintiff was directed to read and acknowledge the Codes and Handbook by reviewing them online as part of a training program.
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2022 N.J. Super. LEXIS 18 *; 2022 WL 453465
GILBERT ANTONUCCI, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. CURVATURE NEWCO, INC., TODD GREDESKY, and ELIZABETH DAPOLITE, Defendants-Respondents.
Subsequent History: [*1] Approved for Publication February 15, 2022.
Prior History: On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Gloucester County, Docket No. L-1034-20.
arbitration agreement, arbitration, pre-empted, waive, state law, employees, discrimination claim, trial court, disputes, compelling arbitration, continued employment, contracts, binding, rights
Business & Corporate Compliance, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Arbitration, Arbitrability, Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Questions of Fact & Law, Pretrial Matters, Judicial Review, Validity of ADR Methods, Federal Arbitration Act, Arbitration Agreements, Labor & Employment Law, Conditions & Terms, Arbitration Provisions, Enforcement, Contract Formation, Acceptance, Meeting of Minds, Waiver, Contracts Law, Contract Conditions & Provisions, Arbitration Clauses, Consideration, Sufficient Consideration, Discrimination, Actionable Discrimination, Scope, Constitutional Law, Supremacy Clause, Federal Preemption, Stay Pending Arbitration