Sutherland v. Ernst & Young LLP, No. 12-304 (2d Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
E&Y appealed from the district court's order denying its motion to dismiss or stay proceedings, and to compel arbitration, in a putative class action brought by its former employees. At issue on appeal was whether an employee could invalidate a class-action waive provision in an arbitration agreement when that waiver removed the financial incentive for her to pursue a claim under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 201, et seq. The court held that the FLSA did not include a "contrary congressional command" that prevented a class-action waiver provision in an arbitration agreement from being enforced by its terms. The court also held that, in light of the supervening decision of the Supreme Court in American Express Co v. Italian Colors Restaurant, the employee's argument that proceeding individually in arbitration would be "prohibitively expensive" was not a sufficient basis to invalidate the action waiver provision at issue here under the "effective vindication doctrine." Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings.