Sandquist v. Lebo Automotive Inc. may seem like a typical employment lawsuit. However, it involves a very significant issue that has now been taken up to the California Supreme Court for resolution. The issue is who determines whether a class claim may be brought and heard before an arbitrator—the court or the arbitrator itself —when the arbitration agreement is unclear or silent as to whether class claims may be brought through arbitration. The high court’s ruling will potentially affect all employers.
The underlying facts of the Sandquist case revolve around a discrimination claim by an employee, pled as both individual and class claims. The plaintiff had signed an arbitration agreement, and as such, the defendant filed a motion to compel arbitration, which was granted by the court. Of significance is the court’s ruling that the plaintiff was bound to an individual arbitration claim and could not pursue a class claim at all.