Sometimes, a decision can detail the requirements for an enforceable employee arbitration agreement better than a legal treatise. That is certainly true in Gustave v. SBE ENT Holdings, LLC, No. 1:19-cv-23961 (S.D. Fla. Sept. 30, 2020). In Gustave, 19 former food and beverage or kitchen workers at the Delano Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida, brought claims against the defendants for violations of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the Florida Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and for a hostile and abusive working environment. The defendants had purchased the hotel in 2016 and, according to the plaintiffs, sought to “rebrand” the hotel by using younger workers.
Eventually, the defendants filed a motion to compel arbitration for 15 of the 19 plaintiffs. The motion was stayed for six months while arbitration-related discovery took place – including the plaintiffs’ depositions of at least four witnesses. Much of the discovery apparently centered around such issues as unconscionability, scope, waiver and novation, even though the plaintiffs’ signing of an Acknowledgement in which they agreed to arbitrate certain claims was undisputed. Ultimately, District Judge Robert N. Scola Jr. granted the motion to compel arbitration, but only after slogging through five counterarguments raised by the plaintiffs in opposition. Those arguments illustrate some of the basics required for an enforceable arbitration agreement. Continue Reading