Washington Appeals Court Rules Pagliacci Cannot Force Pizza Delivery Drivers to Arbitrate Wage Claims
Employers in America are increasingly inserting forced arbitration clauses in their contracts with employees as a way to inoculate themselves against lawsuits. These clauses usually end in arbitration proceedings which tend to weigh heavily in the employers favor, and deny the employee a law suit of their own. Many workers have almost no choice when it comes to arbitration clauses; these clauses usually mean the difference between being hired or not.
In this case, , a former delivery driver claims that Pagliacci failed to pay him all wages he earned and kept delivery charges for itself without telling customers it did so. Pagliacci sought to force the driver into arbitration under a policy printed in its employee handbook.
The Washington State Appeals Court ruled that the driver’s claims can stay in court because he did not have a reasonable opportunity to review the arbitration provision before he was required to sign his employment contract. The court also held that the mandatory arbitration policy is unfair because it unreasonably favors Pagliacci by limiting employees’ access to substantive remedies and discouraging them from pursuing valid claims. The Court of Appeals opinion is available here.