Employment attorney Curt Surls comments on a recent U.S. Supreme Court opinion issued in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis



Employment attorney Curt Surls comments on a recent U.S. Supreme Court opinion issued in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis

In his first article in his series of instructional articles, Employment Lawyer Curt Surls reviews a recent Supreme Court case that reverses NLRA precedent

              U.S. Supreme Court recently issued an opinion that reverses Obama era National Labor Relations Board’s interpretation of the National Labor Relations Act (hereinafter “NLRA”) that individualized arbitration provision in employment contracts were not enforceable.
              In Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, the Supreme Court addressed whether employment contract provision requiring individual arbitration between the employer and employee, instead of collective or class action, is enforceable.  In doing so, the opinion also decides two other cases presenting substantially the same issue, Ernst & Young, LLP v. Morris and National Labor Relations Board v. Murphy Oil USA, Inc.  Ordinarily, Federal Arbitration Act requires that courts recognize and enforce the parties’ arbitration agreement.  The exception is where the agreement’s provision violates another federal law.  In these cases, the employees argued that the individualized arbitration requirement violates the NLRA. 
              Majority opinion, written by Justice Gorsuch, noted that “[a]lthough the Arbitration Act and the NLRA have long coexisted—they date from 1925 and 1935, respectively— the suggestion they might conflict is something quite new.  Until a couple of years ago, courts more or less agreed that arbitration agreements like those before us must be enforced according to their terms.”  The Court explained that “[i]n 2012, the Board— for the first time in the 77 years since the NLRA’s adoption—asserted that the NLRA effectively nullifies the Arbitration Act in cases like ours.” 
              Majority opinion noted that the origin of the Federal Arbitration Act was from a perception, perhaps justified, that courts were hostile to arbitration agreements and regularly refused to recognize their validity.  Therefore, Congress passed the Arbitration Act that “establishes ‘a liberal federal policy favoring arbitration agreements.’”  Also, “[n]ot only did Congress require courts to respect and enforce agreements to arbitrate; it also specifically directed them to respect and enforce the parties’ chosen arbitration procedures.”  Thus, “[o]n first blush, these emphatic directions would seem to resolve any argument under the Arbitration Act. The parties before us contracted for arbitration. They proceeded to specify the rules that would govern their arbitrations, indicating their intention to use individualized rather than class or collective action procedures. And this much the Arbitration Act seems to protect pretty absolutely.”
              Employees sought to avoid individualized arbitration due to the Arbitration Act’s savings clause, which “allows courts to refuse to enforce arbitration agreements ‘upon such grounds as exist at law or in equity for the revocation of any contract.’”  Employees argued that “illegality under the NLRA is a ‘ground’ that ‘exists at law . . . for the revocation’ of their arbitration agreements, at least to the extent those agreements prohibit class or collective action proceedings. 
              The Court went on to explain that even if the employees’ argument could survive various issues that may not be in their favor, the fundamental problem is that “the saving clause recognizes only defenses that apply to ‘any’ contract. In this way the clause establishes a sort of ‘equal-treatment’ rule for arbitration contracts.”  In essence, “the saving clause does not save defenses that target arbitration either by name or by more subtle methods, such as by ‘interfer[ing] with fundamental attributes of arbitration.’”
              The Court also rejected the argument that in these circumstances, the NLRA displaces the mandates of the Arbitration Act.  “A party seeking to suggest that two statutes cannot be harmonized, and that one displaces the other, bears the heavy burden of showing ‘a clearly expressed congressional intention’ that such a result should follow.”  The employees failed to do so here.  A hardly surprising result, explains the Court, considering that “[t]he notion that Section 7 [of the NRLA] confers a right to class or collective actions seems pretty unlikely when you recall that procedures like that were hardly known when the NLRA was adopted in 1935. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 didn’t create the modern class action until 1966; class arbitration didn’t emerge until later still; and even the Fair Labor Standards Act’s collective action provision postdated Section 7 by years.” 
              Epic Systems Corp. and related cases signals a return to pre-2012 era when individualized arbitration provisions were enforced by the courts.  Unless the law is amended by Congress, employers will be able to contract with employees to foreclose collective or class action when employment contract dispute arises.  The case is Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, No. 16-285, decided May 21, 2018.

The full article will be published on the Blog of Mr. Surls at https://CurtSurlsBlog.Blogspot.com


*** Curt Surls is a Specialist in the areas of Employment Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and Wrongful Termination. Located in Manhattan Beach, California, the Law Office of Curt Surls offers a complete range of employment law services to those living throughout Southern California, including all of Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange and San Bernardino counties. With nearly 30 years of experience focusing almost exclusively on this area of law, attorney Curt Surls and his law firm provide the personalized assistance and effective support his clients need. References: Law Firm Website: https://www.curtsurlslaw.com/; Professional Profile on law firm website: https://www.curtsurlslaw.com/attorney-profile/; LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/curt-surls-83118b5/; Attorney Profile: https://solomonlawguild.com/curt-surls%2C-esq; Attorney News: https://attorneygazette.com/curt-surls%2C-esq#5282ef1c-68bd-44ca-a705-13c4c4d19d33

California Employment Attorney Curt Surls has been selected as one of the 500 Leading Plaintiff Employment Lawyers in the U.S.


California Employment Attorney Curt Surls has been selected as one of the 500 Leading Plaintiff Employment Lawyers in the U.S.

According to LawDragon, the 500 Leading Plaintiff Employment Lawyers were chosen in its “research-driven, journalistic process that vets the views of peers and competitors, and recognizes those who are winning big for workers”

Manhattan Beach, CA (August 2018) The Law Office of Curt Surls announced today that employment attorney Curt Surls has been selected among LawDragon’s 2018 choice of 500 Leading Plaintiff Employment Lawyers. This selection is the result of LawDragon’s “research-driven, journalistic process that vets the views of peers and competitors, and recognizes those who are winning big for workers.”

Curt stated, “As you can imagine, I am very honored and humbled to be considered, let alone being asked to join, a distinguished group of talented lawyers.”  He went on to add “I hope my clients find me to be attentive, prompt, courteous and someone that pays attention to detail when representing them. These are all the qualities you would expect and want from an experienced attorney.”

Mr. Surls specializes in Employment Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and Wrongful Termination. With nearly 30 years of experience focusing almost exclusively on this area of law, attorney Curt Surls and his law firm provide the personalized assistance and effective support his clients need when facing employment discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful termination, workplace investigations, age discrimination, and disability discrimination. Curt Surls is a frequent speaker and presenter on legal matters. Most recently, Mr. Surls was asked by the Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA) to speak in September 2018 on a panel regarding “Workplace Investigations: What Works and What Doesn't.”

About Curt Surls, Attorney at Law

The list of the 500 Leading Plaintiff Employment Lawyers is at http://www.lawdragon.com/2018/08/03/lawdragon-500-leading-plaintiff-employment-lawyers/

Curt Surls is a Specialist in the areas of Employment Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and Wrongful Termination.

Contact

1500 Rosecrans Ave #500, 
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266. 
Phone: (310) 706-4055

Located in Manhattan Beach, California, the Law Office of Curt Surls offers a complete range of employment law services to those living throughout Southern California, including all of Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange and San Bernardino counties.

References

Law Firm Website: https://www.curtsurlslaw.com

Professional Profile on law firm website: https://www.curtsurlslaw.com/attorney-profile/






*** Curt Surls is a Specialist in the areas of Employment Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and Wrongful Termination. Located in Manhattan Beach, California, the Law Office of Curt Surls offers a complete range of employment law services to those living throughout Southern California, including all of Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange and San Bernardino counties. With nearly 30 years of experience focusing almost exclusively on this area of law, attorney Curt Surls and his law firm provide the personalized assistance and effective support his clients need. References: Law Firm Website: www.curtsurlslaw.com; Professional Profile on law firm website: https://www.curtsurlslaw.com/attorney-profile/; LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/curt-surls-83118b5/; Attorney Profile: https://solomonlawguild.com/curt-surls%2C-esq; Attorney News: https://attorneygazette.com/curt-surls%2C-esq#5282ef1c-68bd-44ca-a705-13c4c4d19d33

Curt Surls to speak at the Los Angeles County Bar Association workshop titled “Workplace Investigations: What Works and What Doesn't”


Curt Surls to speak at the Los Angeles County Bar Association workshop titled “Workplace Investigations: What Works and What Doesn't”

Distinguished panel will discuss the best practices for conducting a workplace investigation, hosted by Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA).

Manhattan Beach, California (July 2018) The Law Office of Curt Surls announced today that Mr. Surls has been asked by the Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA) to speak in September on a panel regarding “Workplace Investigations: What Works and What Doesn't.” The panel will be comprised of experienced workplace investigators.  Attorneys Ann Fromholz (defense) and Curt Surls (plaintiff) will discuss the best practices for conducting a workplace investigation. On the panel will also be Ann Kotlarski (arbitrator & mediator). The materials and discussion they provide will be practical pointers on a wide variety of related topics including:

   Tips for representing your client during a workplace investigation
   Deposing the investigator
   Mistakes made by employers during an investigation
   The impact of the current #MeToo climate upon investigations

Curt Surls is a Specialist in the areas of Employment Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and Wrongful Termination with nearly 30 years of experience focusing almost exclusively on this area of law.

Mr. Surls stated “I am grateful for the opportunity to share my experience of almost 30 years and to join such distinguished panelists. Internal workplace investigations are an important risk management tool for employers when there are allegations such as harassment. I am truly looking forward to this workshop.” He then explains in more detail: “A few years ago in the case of Crawford v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, 555 U.S. 271 (2009), the Supreme Court reminded employers of their duty ‘to ferret out and put a stop to any discriminatory activities’ in the workplace. It instructs employers ‘to adopt and strengthen procedures for investigating, preventing, and correcting discriminatory conduct.’”

The Law Office of Curt Surls provides the personalized assistance and effective support his clients need when facing any of the following legal challenges:

Employment discrimination
Sexual harassment
Wrongful termination
Workplace investigations
Age discrimination
Disability discrimination
Other labor and employment law issues

Mr. Surls received his B.A. from the University of Iowa and his J.D. from Loyola Law School (Los Angeles) in 1988. in 1988, Mr. Surls was admitted to the California Bar.  Mr. Surls began his legal career with the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, initially as a law clerk and later as a staff.

Mr. Surls is involved in a number of organizations such as the Executive Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association Labor and Employment Section and served as Section Chair in 2015-2016.  He also was Chair of the Section’s 2012 Labor and Employment Law Symposium.  He has also served on the Fair Judicial Election Practices Committee and the Judicial Election Evaluation Committee and served as Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Disability Rights Legal Center (www.disabilityrightslegalcenter.org) from 2008 to 2010.

Prior to opening the Law Office of Curt Surls in July 2012, he was a partner with Bornn & Surls for over 15 years.  Mr. Surls was also an attorney with the Oakland, California civil rights firm then known as Saperstein, Seligman & Mayeda, specializing in employment and civil rights class actions. Mr. Surls also worked for the State of California as counsel to the Director of the Department of Industrial Relations.


*** Curt Surls is a Specialist in the areas of Employment Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and Wrongful Termination. Located in Manhattan Beach, California, the Law Office of Curt Surls offers a complete range of employment law services to those living throughout Southern California, including all of Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange and San Bernardino counties. With nearly 30 years of experience focusing almost exclusively on this area of law, attorney Curt Surls and his law firm provide the personalized assistance and effective support his clients need. References: Law Firm Website: www.curtsurlslaw.com; Professional Profile on law firm website: https://www.curtsurlslaw.com/attorney-profile/; LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/curt-surls-83118b5/; Attorney Profile: https://solomonlawguild.com/curt-surls%2C-esq; Attorney News: https://attorneygazette.com/curt-surls%2C-esq#5282ef1c-68bd-44ca-a705-13c4c4d19d33

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