Federal Court Orders Arbitration

In a ruling released this week, a federal trial judge in Richmond has ordered the parties to an ADA lawsuit to binding arbitration and dismissed the suit.

When the plaintiff was hired, she signed an employment application agreeing to binding arbitration of any and all claims related to her employment. The application also required the parties to split the fees equally. After being sued under the ADA, the employer, a law firm, requested arbitration.

The plaintiff argued it would be prohibitively expensive to pay for half the arbitration, which she estimated to be around $37,500. She also objected that she needed broader discovery to best pursue her claim.

The court rejected both arguments. First, the employer offered to pay all the resulting arbitration costs, mooting her first argument. Second, with regards to the limited discovery inherent in arbitration, the judge ruled that by agreeing to arbitration the plaintiff limited her own right to discovery and was now bound.

In the end, the signed employment application requiring binding arbitration was sufficient to compel arbitration and dismiss the complaint.

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