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An arbitration agreement is not substantively unconscionable simply because it confirms the parties' ability to invoke undisputed statutory rights.
Plaintiff sued defendants, alleging that she suffered verbal and physical harassment, race and sex discrimination, and retaliation, all in violation of California law. Defendants filed a motion to compel arbitration under the terms of an arbitration agreement that plaintiff had signed as a condition of her employment with defendants. The agreement provided that, in the event a claim proceeded to arbitration, the parties were authorized to seek preliminary injunctive relief in the superior court. The trial court denied the motion to compel arbitration, finding that the agreement was procedurally and substantively unconscionable. The appellate court reversed the trial court’s order.
Was the arbitration agreement procedurally and substantively unconscionable?
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeal. The court concluded that the arbitration agreement was not unconscionable. There was no oppression or sharp practices on the part of defendant. Plaintiff was not lied to, placed under duress, or otherwise manipulated into signing the arbitration agreement. Defendants' failure to attach the rules of the American Arbitration Association to the agreement did not affect the consideration of plaintiff's claims of substantive unconscionability. The agreement did not restrict the use of confidential or proprietary information in the proceeding, nor did it pretermit any determination of whether a particular piece of information is a trade secret or otherwise qualifies as proprietary and confidential. The provisional relief clause did no more than recite the procedural protections already secured by Code Civ. Proc., § 1281.8, subd. (b), which expressly permitted parties to an arbitration to seek preliminary injunctive relief during the pendency of the arbitration.