Defendants, an employer and two individuals, appealed an order of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County (California) which denied their petition to compel plaintiff former employee to arbitrate her California employment discrimination and wrongful termination claims against them. Parties’ San Diego litigation attorney appeal.
Plaintiff had opposed the petition on the ground that the arbitration provision in a letter agreement between plaintiff and the employer was unenforceable under the agreement’s choice-of-law provision applying Massachusetts law to the employment relationship. The court held that the trial court did not err in concluding the arbitration provision was unenforceable under Massachusetts law, which the parties agreed applied to the employment relationship. The agreement did not state in clear and unmistakable terms that plaintiff was waiving or limiting any statutory antidiscrimination rights, and her remaining claims were so integrally connected to the antidiscrimination claims that, under Massachusetts law, they had to be resolved in one judicial proceeding. In rejecting defendants’ claim that Massachusetts law was preempted, the court observed that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court had concluded that requiring a clear and unmistakable limitation or waiver of statutory antidiscrimination rights did not interfere with the purposes of the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. § 1 et seq. Thus, plaintiff was not required to arbitrate her antidiscrimination claims.
The court affirmed the order.
HOLDINGS: -The consumer had standing to bring a claim under California law of reliance on misleading labels because she adequately alleged that she relied on the label’s misrepresentations and would not have purchased the product without those misrepresentations; -FDA trans fat regulations governing the contents of the Nutrition Facts Panel did not preempt California’s unfair competition laws proscribing false or misleading advertising elsewhere on a food product’s label, and thus, the consumer could challenge the legitimacy of defendant’s product advertising on the face of the label that it contained “0g Trans Fat per serving”; -The consumer had standing to bring “use claims” under California law, but the issue of whether the claim was preempted by an FDA 2015 Final Determination on the subject was remanded for the district court to consider in the first instance.
Judgment reversed and case remanded.