Samaniego v. Empire Today, LLC
California Court of Appeal
140 Cal. Rptr.3d 492 (2012)
Salome Samaniego (plaintiff) was hired as a carpet installer for Empire Today, LLC (defendant). Empire presented Samaniego with a form contract, or contract of adhesion, which Samaniego was required to sign if he wished to begin work for Empire. The contract was 11 pages, single-spaced, in small font. English was not Samaniego’s first language, and Empire refused to provide a copy of the contract in Spanish. Samaniego signed the contract. The contract contained an arbitration clause, but Empire did not provide Samaniego with a copy of the arbitration rules to which he was agreeing. The contract shortened the statute of limitations for bringing a claim against Empire. The contract also required Samaniego to pay Empire’s attorney’s fees, but with no reciprocal requirement on Empire. Finally, the contract exempted from the arbitration clause a number of claims typically brought by employers, while adding no such exemption for claims typically brought by employees. Samaniego filed a putative class action against Empire, alleging violations of labor laws. Empire filed a motion to compel arbitration pursuant to the contract. The trial court denied Empire’s motion, finding that the contract was unconscionable. Empire appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Siggins, J.)
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