Baxter v. Genworth North America Corp.Annotate this Case
Baxter sued her former employer, Genworth, for wrongful termination and related causes of action, based on discrimination and retaliation, arising out of her employment. Genworth moved to compel arbitration as part of Genworth’s Resolve Employee Issue Resolution Program, which consists four stages, The trial court concluded, and the court of appeal affirmed, that the arbitration agreement Baxter signed in 2006, as a condition of continued employment, is unconscionable, refusing to sever any provisions. Agreement as a condition of continued employment amounted to “modest procedural unconscionability.” The court concluded that several features of the agreement were substantively unconscionable: default discovery limitations, a prohibition against contacting witnesses, procedural deadlines that effectively shorten the statute of limitations and preclude a meaningful opportunity for a pre-litigation Fair Employment and Housing Act investigation, and accelerated hearing procedures that infringe upon an employee’s ability to adequately present his or her case. The severance of the offending provisions was not an option because the arbitration agreement is permeated by unconscionability.