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Ferguson v. Countrywide Credit Industries, Inc.
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
298 F.3d 778 (2002)
When Misty Ferguson (plaintiff) was hired by Countrywide Credit Industries, Inc. (Countrywide) (defendant), she was required to sign an arbitration agreement. The agreement required arbitration for claims for breach of contract, discrimination, harassment, violations of federal or state laws, and tort claims, but exempted claims for workers’ compensation, unemployment benefits, intellectual property violations, unfair competition, and disclosure of trade secrets from the arbitration requirement. The arbitration agreement also required the employee to pay the arbitration filing fee and various other costs and to split the arbitrator’s fees with Countrywide. The agreement also limited any deposition of a Countrywide representative to four designated topics. Ferguson later sued Countrywide and her supervisor, Leo DeLeon (defendant), for sexual harassment, retaliation, and hostile work environment. The district court denied Countrywide’s petition to compel arbitration, finding that the arbitration agreement was unconscionable and therefore unenforceable. Countrywide appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Pregerson, C.J.)
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