Partner David Belfort was quoted in the October 22, 2020 Massachusetts Lawyer’s Weekly article relative to a recent case about whether a mandatory arbitration provision signed by an unpaid intern applied after the employee became a full-time employee.
The question as to whether Courts may compel arbitration arose in a case brought against United Healthcare Services of Delaware, Inc by an employee who, while an unpaid intern, signed a mandatory arbitration agreement and did not opt out of it within thirty days of signature.
The Plaintiff’s internship ended and she was offered and accepted a full-time position but did not sign a new agreement mandating arbitration. The Plaintiff sued the Defendant based on gender bias and retaliation. The Superior Court denied Defendant’s Motion to Compel Arbitration leading to this appeal. The Appeals Court ruled that per the delegation provision, which granted broad discretion to the Arbitrator to determine applicability of the clause, the question of arbitrability was for the arbitrator alone to decide.
Mr. Belfort noted that the decision does not cover significantly new ground however, it is surprising that the court did not discuss the material change doctrine that is routinely applied in the non-compete context in determining the validity of agreements. Furthermore, Mr. Belfort noted that “[f]rom a broad policy perspective, it is remarkable that courts readily defer arbitrability determinations to private arbitrators, who not only have a financial interest in the outcome but act under a cloak of confidentiality that often permanently shields their decisions.”
The Lawyers Weekly article is below and at https://masslawyersweekly.com/welcome-ad/?retUrl=/2020/10/22/arbitrator-to-decide-arbitrability-of-employees-sex-bias-claim/