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Supreme Court of the United States
March 21, 2022, Argued; May 23, 2022, Decided
Justice Kagan delivered the opinion of the Court.
] When a party who has agreed to arbitrate a dispute instead brings a lawsuit, the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) entitles the defendant to file an application to stay the litigation. See 9 U. S. C. §3. But defendants do not always seek that relief right away. Sometimes, they engage in months, or even years, of litigation—filing motions to dismiss, answering complaints, and discussing settlement—before deciding they would fare better in arbitration. When that happens, the court faces a question: Has the defendant’s request to switch to arbitration come too late?
Most Courts of Appeals have answered that question by applying a rule of waiver specific to the arbitration context. Usually, a federal court deciding whether a litigant has waived a right does not ask if its actions caused harm. But when the right concerns arbitration, courts have held, a finding of harm [*5] is essential: A party can waive its arbitration right by litigating only when its conduct has prejudiced the other side. That special rule, the courts say, derives from the FAA’s “policy favoring arbitration.”
We granted certiorari to decide whether the FAA authorizes federal courts to create such an arbitration-specific procedural rule. We hold it does not.
Petitioner Robyn Morgan worked as an hourly employee at a Taco Bell franchise owned by respondent Sundance. When applying for the job, she signed an agreement to “use confidential binding arbitration, instead of going to court,” to resolve any employment dispute. App. 77.
Despite that agreement, Morgan brought a nationwide collective action against Sundance in federal court for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Under that statute, employers must pay overtime to covered employees who work more than 40 hours in a week. See 29 U. S. C. §207(a). Morgan alleged that Sundance routinely flouted the Act—most notably, by recording hours worked in one week as instead worked in another to prevent any week’s total from exceeding 40. See App. 12.
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2022 U.S. LEXIS 2514 *; __ S.Ct. __; 2022 WL 1611788
ROBYN MORGAN, PETITIONER v. SUNDANCE, INC.
Notice: The pagination of this document is subject to change pending release of the final published version.
Prior History: [*1] ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE EIGHTH CIRCUIT
Morgan v. Sundance, Inc., 992 F.3d 711, 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 9215, 2021 WL 1181677 (8th Cir. Iowa, Mar. 30, 2021)
Disposition: 992 F. 3d 711, vacated and remanded.
arbitration, favoring arbitration, rules of procedure, federal court, arbitration-specific, parties, waived
Business & Corporate Compliance, Arbitration, Federal Arbitration Act, Orders to Compel Arbitration, Stay Pending Arbitration, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Waiver, Contract Formation, Consideration, Detrimental Reliance, Arbitration Agreements, Contracts Law, Contract Conditions & Provisions, Forfeiture Clauses, Arbitration Clauses