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Arbitration agreements can be enforced under the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C.S. § 1 et seq., without contravening the policies of congressional enactments giving employees specific protection against discrimination prohibited under federal law.
Plaintiff Charity Emeronye filed the present suit against her former employer, CACI International, Inc., alleging discrimination under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, et seq., and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. Plaintiff contended that she was denied promotions because of her race and/or national origin, and that her employer engaged in retaliatory conduct. Defendant moved to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1), arguing that under plaintiff's employment agreement her discrimination claims were subject to mandatory arbitration and cannot be pursued in the district court. In response, plaintiff argued that (1) the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C.S. § 1 et seq., did not apply to employment contracts, (2) the contract was an adhesion contract that plaintiff had not assented to, (3) it did not contain a clear waiver of statutory rights, and (4) under the FAA a court could stay proceedings but cannot dismiss them.
Under the circumstances, should plaintiff’s claim be dismissed?
The court rejected all of plaintiff's arguments, holding that the FAA exemption for employment contracts was limited to those in the transportation industry. The court noted that the plaintiff had signed the contract and the fact that she had not read it was an unavailing argument under normal contract law. Plaintiff was not waiving any of her rights, she was subjecting them to an arbitral, rather than a judicial, forum. Under the FAA, the court could dismiss the action if all of the claims fell under an arbitration agreement. That was the case in the instant action.