Yet again, New Jersey’s appellate court has demonstrated its reluctance to enforce agreements to arbitrate signed as part of a new employee’s orientation. In a previous post we discussed a ruling from the Appellate Division demonstrating the risk of having employees execute arbitration agreements during an orientation process. The court in that case refused to enforce the agreement because the employee maintained that pressure was exerted upon her to immediately execute the document, thus depriving her of the opportunity to bring the document home and seek out legal advice.
Another opinion issued by the Appellate Division on November 10, 2021, provides the latest insight on the missteps an employer can make when seeking to enter into a binding arbitration agreement with an employees.
The Facts: In Cordero v. Fitness International LLC, a former employee of LA Fitness filed a complaint in the New Jersey Superior Court alleging sexually harassment by her former manager. LA Fitness moved to compel arbitration pursuant to an agreement executed by the employee during onboarding her first day on the job. According to the employee, a general manager with LA Fitness placed her at a desk and told her to “sign a few things electronically” before she could start work. He then sat next to her and instructed her to sign an electronic signature pad as he clicked through various documents. The employee claimed she never actually saw the documents that she electronically signed. When the employee later filed her sexual harassment complaint, LA fitness moved to compel arbitration based on the following language contained in a document she signed during onboarding: