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Adams and Taft ("A&T") is the largest real estate manage

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ment firm in Santa Ana...
Adams and Taft ("A&T") is the largest real estate manage ment firm in Santa Ana, California. You have just accepted a new administrative position with A&T and have been assigned to focus on ADR work for partner Howard Taft, a wealthy owner of real estate who comes into the law office once a week.
Taft assigns you to work on "the Karen Bond dispute." Karen Bond was hired last year as an entry level, hourly wage receptionist at A&T. Her job qualification was a high school diploma. Three weeks after she was hired, Karen was given an Employee Handbook, a 15-page booklet containing various rules and practices regarding employment at A&T. The cover letter stapled to the top of the booklet asserted that "the attached Employee Handbook is part of your employment contract at A&T. If you disagree with anything in the Manual, contact your supervisor within 24 hours." Included in the Handbook was a "Dispute Resolution Clause" providing that "if a dispute arises between an A&T employee and the firm, the dispute will be mediated, and, if the mediation fails to resolve the matter, arbitrated. The parties agree that the arbitrator will decide whether the contract is valid and binding and that the only ground for judicial review is bias of the arbitrator."
Karen Bond was discharged by A&T six months after her employment commenced. Two weeks prior to her discharge, Karen had complained to her superior about repeated lewd comments made to her by two male associates of the firm. Karen was told that she was discharged for "improper behavior because she had repeatedly worn beach style clothing in violation of the A&T dress code for employees as set forth in the A&T Employee Handbook." Karen was told twice to stop wearing tight jeans and tank tops.
Karen filed a suit in federal district court against A&T, alleging a violation of the state civil rights statute. Damages of $375,000 were requested. She alleged that her civil rights to wear beach clothing and to fair employment procedures had been violated. A&T moved to stay the action pending mediation, and, if needed, arbitration. The court granted the motion. At the mediation Karen herself listened to the opening statement of the mediator, announced that "she had no interest in compromising her position," and left the room followed by her attorney.
A week later Karen's attorney served a 25-page set of interrogatories on A&T. A few days later counsel for A&T noticed the depositions of Karen and ***** *****, the former A&T supervisor of personnel. Counsel for A&T agreed to change the dates of these two depositions after being contacted by counsel for Karen.
A&T then filed a separate motion to compel arbitration. After extended arguments, the court granted the motion, ruling that "all legal issues are now transferred to the arbitrator."
The matter then went to arbitration. At the start of the arbitration Karen's attorney moved that the arbitrator lacked the power to hear the dispute. The arbitrator reserved ruling on this issue and ordered the hearing to begin. The arbitrator limited each side to "2 hours of evidence" and "no more than 4 witnesses each." The arbitrator also allowed all witnesses to attend and listen to the evidence "on the theory of achieving well-informed witnesses."
Over Karen's objections, one of the witnesses for the defendant A&T was the mediator at the earlier mediation between A&T and Karen. He testified that Karen "wore beach clothing - sandals, tight jeans, and a tank top - to the mediation; these were the type of clothes she normally wore to work."
At the end of the evidence, the arbitrator left the room. Five minutes later she returned with this signed award.
"After hearing all the evidence, I find for Karen Bond in the amount of $187,500." Karen's civil rights were very clearly violated and chilled in violation of the state Constitution because her dress, while beach in style, was professional enough for Santa Ana."
A&T then moved that the trial court set aside the award. The court granted the motion and Karen has appealed.
Discuss fully each of the arbitration legal issues presented.
Submitted: 1 year ago.Category: Essays
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