Texas Supreme Court Rules on Arbitration Issue in Employment Dispute
Many employers require employees to enter into arbitration agreements.
Many employers require employees to enter into arbitration agreements. The Texas Supreme Court recently ruled on a dispute concerning an employment-related arbitration issue. In re Macy’s, No. 08-0584, __ S.W. __ (Tex. June 29, 2009), available at http://www.supreme.courts.state.tx.us/historical/2009/jun/080584.htm.
Erica Tomsic allegedly injured her back while working at a Macy’s department store. The next month, she signed an “Arbitration Acknowledgement,” acknowledging that she received the Summary Plan Description, an explanation of the applicable arbitration policies. The Arbitration Acknowledgement required Tomsic to pursue arbitration of any on-the-job injuries against the “Company.” The “Company” was defined in the Plan as “your particular employer.”
Tomsic sued, naming Macy’s Texas, Inc. as her employer. When Macy’s moved to compel arbitration, Tomsic argued that she was not employed by any of the entities specifically named in the Plan. The trial court denied the motion to compel arbitration, and the court of appeals denied mandamus relief.
The Texas Supreme Court found that, while the definition of the “Company” is nonspecific, it operates to avoid quarrels about corporate divisions. Because Tomsic agreed to arbitrate disputes with her employer, she could not avoid arbitration by raising factual disputes about her employer’s correct legal name. The Court then directed the trial court to enter an order compelling arbitration.
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