Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Friday, March 09, 2012

Jury Waivers Treated Same As Arbitration Agreements by Texas Supreme Court


I would have been surprised if the decision went the other way, but today the Texas Supreme Court affirmed that an at will employee who signed a jury waiver agreement rather than be terminated was not entitled to have it set aside because he was coerced. In re Frank Kent Motor Company (Tx. 3.9.12).

The Court had to look only to its decision a decade earlier, In re Halliburton Co. (Tx 2002), where "this Court held that it was not procedurally unconscionable to premise continued employment on an acceptance of an arbitration plan."

Not a big jump to hold that "all similar dispute resolution agreements" should be treated the same.

The case does make one ironic point though. Both the trial court and the court of appeals had rejected the employer's request to strike the jury demand of the employee. Now having prevailed,   the employer gets to try its case in front of the reversed trial court, with the reversed appellate court looking over its shoulder.

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