Want an Enforceable Employment Arbitration Clause? Make This Your Signature Move
In an article published online in The Daily Report on October 18, 2021, Atlanta-based partner Matt Gomes and attorney Will Ortiz discussed the recent Georgia Court of Appeals decision in Vasudeva v. Dagnew, 2021 WL 3417474 (Ga. App. Aug. 5, 2021), wherein the court held that the arbitration agreement in Vasudeva’s employment contract was not enforceable because the parties had not initialed or signed the arbitration clause as required by Georgia law under the Georgia Arbitration Act.
The article warns that all attorneys need to be aware of how critically and carefully courts are looking these clauses – and how they are signed. In sum, going forward, if Georgia employers want an enforceable arbitration clause, they must be sure that the parties initial the clause in a manner that clearly indicates "specific" acknowledgment of the arbitration clause.
Gomes and Ortiz emphasized the high stakes for employers writing: “A recent study concluded that more than half of nonunion private sector employees are now subject to mandatory arbitration procedures. At the same time, states like California have passed laws that attempt to limit an employer’s ability to require arbitration of employment disputes. Even without a statute, judges may act to prevent arbitration where they feel that the employee agreed to the alternative forum without understanding what he or she was giving up.”
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