Hastings Law Journal


Katherine Eddy


California courts continue to support an aggressive policy eliminating workers' access to courts under the Fair Employment and Housing Act by enforcing mandatory arbitration clauses in employment contracts. The author examines the facts surrounding the California Court of Appeal's decision in 24 Hour Fitness v. Superior Court and criticizes the holding as inequitable on three bases. First, the author asserts that the court acted hastily in granting summary judgment to the defendants while also holding that the plaintiff had waived her right to arbitration. The author then argues that- the facts of this case did not merit a grant of summary judgment for individual defendants on a third party beneficiary theory, which unfairly gave co-employees the protection of the mandatory arbitration agreement between the plaintiff and her employer. Finally, the court should have employed a less stringent unconscionability test given the overall circumstances of the case. The author proposes a reasonable compromise between the unbalanced result of 24 Hour Fitness and the employee-friendly decision of the Ninth Circuit in Duffield v. Robertson Stephens & Co., to enhance the positive possibilities of arbitration while eliminating the inequities that flow from a blanket rule supporting mandatory arbitration clauses.

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