Chavarria v. Ralphs, No. 11-56673 (9th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff filed suit against Ralphs alleging violations of the California Labor Code and California Business and Professions Code 17200 et seq. On appeal, Ralphs challenged the district court's denial of its motion to compel arbitration. The court concluded that Ralphs' arbitration policy was unconscionable under California law. The court concluded that Ralphs' arbitration was procedurally unconscionable where, among other things, agreeing to Ralphs' policy was a condition of applying for employment and the terms were not disclosed to plaintiff until three weeks after she had agreed to be bound by it. In regards to substantive unconscionability, the court concluded, among other things, that Ralphs' terms required that the arbitrator impose significant costs on the employee up front, regardless of the merits of the employee's claims, and severely limited the authority of the arbitrator to allocate arbitration costs in the award. Further, the state law supporting such a conclusion was not preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. 2. Accordingly, the court affirmed and remanded for further proceedings.