Archives for February 2019

Prime v. Oliveira: A Rare Blow To Arbitration

On January 15, 2019, the US Supreme Court in Prime v. Oliveira issued a unanimous decision that the Federal Arbitration Act’s (FAA) exemption for “contracts of employment” now applies to independent contractors.  Prior case law simply applied this exemption to employees, but now the Supreme Court expanded the exemption to all transportation-type workers, including independent contractors. In other words, all transportation workers, whether an employee or independent contractor, are exempt from the FAA – the predominant statute employers use to compel arbitration.

As mentioned in previous blog entries, arbitration agreements eviscerate important legal rights a party has in court, and arbitration is no faster or cheaper than a matter you would see in a courtroom.  Instead, arbitration agreements load the deck for employers; thus, more and more employers include arbitration provisions in their employment/independent contractor agreements.  In fact, the use of arbitration agreements by private companies has exploded from 2 percent in 1992 to more than 55 percent in 2018.  While arbitration clauses are certainly on the rise, this ruling is a clear win for the plaintiff employee who seeks to vindicate her rights in court.

However, this is not to say transportation employees are completely immune to dastardly arbitration clauses.  Generally, the FAA, a federal act, preempts state arbitration laws. Now, transportation employees’ and independent contractors’ fight against arbitration will be waged using the applicable state law.  Fortunately, several state laws frown upon arbitration clauses (California bans arbitration clauses for wage claims, Montana prohibits arbitration clauses for workers’ compensation claims, and New Hampshire contains restrictions on employment arbitration), and a few states completely prohibit arbitration clauses in employment contracts (Iowa, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Rhode Island).  Indeed, the individual states are a potpourri of laws regarding arbitration and the results will undoubtedly be a mixed bag.

Nevertheless, this ruling is a win, albeit small, for employees, especially following a Supreme Court ruling which emboldened employers seeking arbitration.  The strongest obstacle to defeating arbitration clauses, the FAA, is no longer impeding the rights of transportation workers, whether they are employees or independent contractors.

If you have been harassed, discriminated against, wrongfully terminated, or otherwise wronged by your employer, and feel you might be hauled in arbitration, please contact us online or call us at (619) 342-8000.

Four Haeggquist & Eck Attorneys Named California Super Lawyers; Alreen Haeggquist Named To Top 25 Women, Top 50 Attorneys Lists

We’re thrilled to announce that Haeggquist & Eck attorneys Alreen Haeggquist, Amber Eck, Aaron Olsen, and Jenna Rangel have been selected to the 2019 California Super Lawyers list.  Each year, no more than five percent of the lawyers statewide are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers to receive this honor.

Haeggquist, the firm’s founding partner, was also selected for inclusion in the Top 25 Women San Diego Super Lawyers list and the Top 50 San Diego Super Lawyers list.

In addition, senior associate Jenna Rangel has been selected to the 2019 California Rising Star list.  No more than 2.5 percent of lawyers in California receive this honor each year.

Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.  The annual selections are made using a patented multiphase process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates and peer reviews by practice area.  The result is a credible, comprehensive, and diverse listing of exceptional attorneys.

Please join us in congratulating Alreen, Amber, Aaron, and Jenna for this incredible honor!

To schedule your free initial consultation, contact us online or call (619) 342-8000 today!

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