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Employment Arbitration Form Binding Even if Employee Failed to Read Referenced Materials
Description Appeals court held that the trial court should have required an employee go to arbitration against his former employer for settlement of his race and age discrimination claims. The employee signed a form that said that all employment disputes would go to arbitration and referenced detailed rules that the employee could have read had he so desired.
Topic Alternate Dispute Resolution
Key Words Arbitration; Employment; Knowledge
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Haskins sued his former employer, Prudential, contending that he was fired because of age and race discrimination. Haskins sold registered securities, so the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) regulated his selling activities. Under NASD regulations, as a condition of employment, in 1983 Haskins executed a Uniform Application for Securities Industry Registration or Transfer (a U-4 Form) which contains a provision requiring arbitration of any employment disputes. Prudential contended that because he signed this form he could not file suit but had to submit his complaint to arbitration. The trial judge held for Haskins because the U-4 Form did not list the types of disputes covered, consequently Haskins may have been unaware that it included discrimination claims. Prudential appealed.
Decision Reversed. The arbitration agreement signed by Haskins remained in effect even though it did not list all possible matters that could be covered by arbitration. Haskins did not read the detailed rules of the NASD, which contained such matters, but the rules were referenced in the agreement. There was no fraud, misrepresentation or other wrongful act by Prudential that would invalidate the U-4 Form signed in 1983.
Citation Haskins v. Prudential Insurance Co. of America, 230 F.3d 231 (6th Cir., 2000)

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