Broker’s Wage and Hour Collective Action Dismissed in Favor of Enforcing Arbitration Agreement

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The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York recently rejected broker Anthony Arrigo’s putative Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) collective action based upon an arbitration provision found in his employment agreement with commodity broker Blue Fish Commodities, Inc. Arrigo v. Blue Fish Commodities, Inc., No. 09 Civ. 7518, 2010 WL 391813, slip op. (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 4, 2010). The Court instead granted Blue Fish’s motion to compel Arrigo to submit his claims to arbitration pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), which compels judicial enforcement of a wide range of written arbitration agreements. The Blue Fish decision is part of an active and ongoing debate about the future of pre-dispute arbitration agreements in the employment and commercial areas.

The Blue Fish Decision

In his complaint, Arrigo alleges that he and other account executives were denied overtime compensation in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., and the wage and hour regulations of New York and New York City. At the time of his hire, Arrigo executed an employment agreement with Blue Fish. The employment agreement includes a pre-dispute arbitration provision, which referred all employment-related claims—including “all federal and state statutory claims”—to arbitration. The employment agreement also provides that the arbitrator, and not a court, has exclusive authority to resolve any dispute relating to the interpretation or enforceability of the agreement.

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