The Risk of Waiting to Enforce Employee Arbitration Agreements

By Eric B. Meyer

It was just last month that I blogged about arbitration agreement tips for Pennsylvania employers from the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. I hate to leave New Jersey employers out of the loop, so today’s post is for you.

Last week, the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, in Cole v. Jersey City Medical Center denied a company’s attempt to enforce an arbitration provision in its employee contract because it waited too long to do so after being sued:

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As a matter of litigation strategy, Liberty opted to participate in the suit brought in the Superior Court for a period of twenty months and did not raise the issue of arbitration until three days before the case was scheduled for trial. During this time, the parties completed their reciprocal discovery obligations and the case was ready for trial. This indicates a knowing and deliberate decision by Liberty to forgo raising arbitration as a forum to adjudicate plaintiff’s claims. Under these circumstances, Liberty is equitably estopped from compelling plaintiff to submit her claims to arbitration.”

New Jersey employers (and others, too) must remember that if they get sued by an employee and they have arbitration agreements, whether in employee handbooks, employment agreements, or otherwise, don’t delay in moving to compel arbitration. Otherwise, your fate may end up in the hands of the jury.

This was originally published on Eric B. Meyer’s blog, The Employer Handbook.

You know that scientist in the action movie who has all the right answers if only the government would just pay attention? Eric B. Meyer, Esq. gets companies HR-compliant before the action sequence. Serving clients nationwide, Eric is a Partner at FisherBroyles, LLP, which is the largest full-service, cloud-based law firm in the world, with approximately 210 attorneys in 21 offices nationwide. Eric is also a volunteer EEOC mediator, a paid private mediator, and publisher of The Employer Handbook (www.TheEmployerHandbook.com), which is pretty much the best employment law blog ever. That, and he's been quoted in the British tabloids. #Bucketlist.

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