Weeks v. 735 Putnam Pike Operations, LLCAnnotate this Case
Plaintiff, a member of a union, filed a complaint against Defendant, her former employer, alleging that during her employment she was subjected to a hostile work environment on account of her race and color and that she was wrongfully terminated. Defendant filed a motion to stay proceedings, arguing that the proper forum for resolution of Plaintiff’s claims was binding arbitration as required by the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the union and Defendant. A hearing justice granted Defendant’s motion to stay and ordered that the matter be resolved through arbitration. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the hearing justice’s decision was in error because the CBA’s arbitration provision did not preclude her from asserting her statutorily created rights under the Rhode Island Civil Rights Act (RICRA) and Rhode Island Fair Employment Practices Act (FEPA) in a judicial forum. The Supreme Court vacated the order of the superior court, holding that the CBA’s general arbitration provision, which contained no specific reference to the state anti-discrimination statutes at issue, did not constitute a clear and unmistakable waiver of Plaintiff’s right to a judicial forum in which to litigate her claims arising under the RICRA and the FEPA. Remanded.