Court of Appeal: No Waiver of Arbitration and No Class Action Either

The Court of Appeal overturned a trial court's denial of the employer's motion to compel arbitration.  Here are some key points:

1.  The Court of Appeal expressly recognized that an arbitration agreement that is silent regarding class actions cannot be read to require classwide arbitration.

[A] party may not be compelled under the FAA to submit to class arbitration unless there is a contractual basis for concluding that the party agreed to do so. . . . As the Arbitration Agreement explicitly covers the type of claims that are the subject of Reyes‘s lawsuit and provides only for bilateral arbitration, there is no contractual basis for concluding the parties agreed to submit to class arbitration. Therefore, we conclude that the Arbitration Agreement does not authorize class arbitration.
2. The court held that the employer did not waive the right to arbitrate, even though it did not cite the arbitration agreement in the answer, and though it conducted lots of discovery in court.  The reason is that the employer likely would not have prevailed on a motion to compel arbitration until the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion  (2011) 563 U.S. ___ [131 S.Ct. 1740, 179 L.Ed.2d 742].  Therefore, the employer did not "waive" the right to arbitrate, when seeking arbitration would have been futile.

3.  Like pretty much every other court, the court here refused to follow the National Labor Relations Board's decision in DR Horton (holding that arbitration agreements cannot require class action waivers unless the employee can bring a class action in court). 

The decision is Reyes v. Liberman Broadcasting and the opinion is here.