Just Because There Is An Arbitration Provision, Don’t Take The Existence Of An Arbitration Agreement For Granted . . .
The mere existence of a contractual provision requiring arbitration does not mean that the parties have established the existence of an agreement to arbitrate the claims between the parties. At a minimum, a checklist would include: is the agreement signed; are the parties correctly identified; are the claims within the scope of the agreement; is the agreement properly authenticated. Flores v. Nature’s Best Distribution, LLC, No. G052410 (4/3 filed 12/2; order pub. 12/27/16) (Fybel, O’Leary, Moore) (published) affirms an order denying an employer’s petition to compel arbitration, because the employer failed to establish the existence of an arbitration agreement, even though there was an arbitration provision.
The problems here with the employer/employee agreement included: (1) the arbitration provision, while stating it was between employee and employer, failed to identify either term; (2) the agreement failed to identify which disputes would be arbitrated before the AAA and which would be subject to a collective bargaining agreement grievance procedure; (3) the agreement failed to identify which set of AAA rules applied, with the employer attaching rules that became effective 12 years after the employment relationship began. Here, the authentication of the agreement was also questioned by the employee, but the Court didn’t even need to address the issue in order to affirm the order denying the petition to arbitrate.