Recently in Arbitration Category

May 15, 2014

Employee Bound to Arbitrate Claims Against Employer Based Upon Language in Employee Handbook

In a recent ruling from a federal district court in Massachusetts, the court held that the terms regarding an arbitration program contained in an employee handbook operated as a binding agreement to arbitrate the employee's discrimination claims against the employer.

In Daniels v. Raymours Furniture Co., Inc., the plaintiff had been an employee of the defendant-employer. When he was hired, the plaintiff was required to review and acknowledge receipt of the employer's employee handbook containing the company's employment policies. A few months later, the employer adopted an arbitration program, and incorporated the terms of that program into the employee handbook. The employer emailed the revised handbook to all employees, including the plaintiff. Specifically, the new terms specified that the program was an essential element of the employees' continued relationship with the employer, and that accepting the new program was a condition of employment. The plaintiff reviewed the handbook on his computer, and clicked "done" to certify that he had read the updated policy.

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April 10, 2014

Business Disputes in Automotive Industry Can Present Unique Issues

A recent decision from the United States District Court in Massachusetts illustrates how business disputes in the automotive industry may be subject to specific laws that can have an effect on substantive claims as well as the enforcement of arbitration agreements to resolve such disputes. In Aston Martin Lagonda of North America, Inc. v. Lotus Motorsports, Inc., laws specific to automotive business disputes led the federal court to dismiss various claims brought by dealership franchisee Lotus Motorsports, Inc. (Lotus) against franchisor Aston Martin Lagonda of North America, Inc. (Aston Martin).

After entering into an automobile dealership franchise agreement with Aston Martin in 1996, Lotus served as the only Aston Martin dealer in New England, except for southern Connecticut. Around 2003, Aston Martin advised Lotus that the showroom at Lotus's dealership was insufficient for the anticipated increase in volume, and assured Lotus that it would sell 75 to 100 units per year when Aston Martin's new volume model was released. Based on these statements and encouragement from Aston Martin, Lotus moved its dealership to a larger facility in which it invested more than $700,000, and passed on other business opportunities. In 2013, Lotus learned that another Aston Martin authorized dealership would be opening 8.7 miles from Lotus's new location.

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