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Diaz v. Sohnen Enterprises

Court of Appeal of California, Second Appellate District, Division Seven

April 10, 2019, Opinion Filed



 [**829] ZELON, Acting P. J.—Sohnen Enterprises appeals from the denial of its motion to compel arbitration of claims brought by its employee, Erika Diaz. The record before this court demonstrates there was no evidence to support the denial; accordingly, we reverse with directions.


Erika Diaz, an employee of Sohnen Enterprises, filed a complaint alleging workplace discrimination on December 22, 2016. Twenty days earlier, on December 2, 2016, she and her coworkers received notice at an in-person meeting that the company was adopting a new dispute resolution policy requiring arbitration of all claims. At that meeting, according to the declaration of Marla Carr, the chief operating officer of Sohnen, Carr informed all employees present, including Diaz, about the new dispute resolution [***2]  agreement. She included in her explanation that continued employment by an employee who refused to sign the agreement would itself constitute acceptance of the dispute resolution agreement. According to Carr, she provided the explanation in English and Elaina Diaz, a human resources employee, explained the terms in Spanish. Diaz confirmed this in her own declaration, in which she stated that she discussed the terms in Spanish; she did not provide further details about the December 2 meeting. All employees received a copy of the agreement to review at home.

On December 19, 2016, representatives of the company met privately with Diaz, who had indicated to Elaina Diaz on December 14 that she did not wish to sign the agreement. Carr and Diaz advised her again, in Spanish and English, that continuing to work constituted acceptance of the agreement.

On December 23, 2016, Diaz and her lawyer presented to Sohnen a letter dated December 20, 2016 rejecting the agreement but indicating that Diaz intended to continue her employment. On the same date, Diaz also served the complaint in this action.

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34 Cal. App. 5th 126 *; 245 Cal. Rptr. 3d 827 **; 2019 Cal. App. LEXIS 329 ***

ERIKA DIAZ, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. SOHNEN ENTERPRISES et al., Defendants and Appellants.

Prior History:  [***1] APPEAL from an order of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, No. BC644622, William F. Fahey, Judge.

Disposition: Reversed with directions.


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Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Record on Appeal, Business & Corporate Compliance, Contracts Law, Contract Conditions & Provisions, Arbitration Clauses, Pretrial Matters, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Validity of ADR Methods, Contract Formation, Contract Formation, Labor & Employment Law, Employment Contracts, Conditions & Terms, Arbitration Provisions, Employment Relationships, At Will Employment, Conditions & Terms, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Burden Shifting, Contracts Law, Defenses, Unconscionability