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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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