Two And A Half Lawsuits: Lessons Learned From The Charlie Sheen Litigation


The recent termination of Charlie Sheen from "Two and a Half Men," and the swirl of negative publicity around the incident, has shed light on the use of arbitration agreements. After he was fired, Sheen filed a $100 million lawsuit against Warner Bros. He wants the proceedings held in front of a jury rather than being privately adjudicated by an arbitrator as outlined in his Warner Bros. contract.

In And Out Of Court

Sheen's lawyers filed an emergency restraining order in March to avoid arbitration proceedings initiated by Warner Bros. The court denied Sheen's request. That's one lawsuit. The actor then filed another action to avoid arbitration which was first heard by the Los Angeles Superior Court on April 20, but the court ordered further briefing. That's two lawsuits. The dispute resolution company JAMS appointed an arbitrator in late March to adjudicate the dispute.

Following a lengthy briefing process, on June 15 the court ruled against Sheen. The court ordered that the dispute related to his employment agreement must proceed in arbitration as outlined in that agreement. The agreement spells out that any controversy or claim related to Sheen's employment agreement – including the issue of what matters should be arbitrated – were to be decided by the arbitrator. That's not a lawsuit at all, so we'll call that one the one-half.

The ruling in favor of Warner Bros. is significant for employers in at least two ways. First, it illustrates the significance of arbitration agreements in employment disputes. The actor and his attorneys would not be trying to avoid arbitration if they thought it was advantageous to their case. Second, this case reminds employers of how critical it is to prepare a well-written arbitration agreement.

Employees are increasingly litigious, so many employers favor arbitration for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately, crafting an enforceable arbitration agreement is a complex exercise. Requirements vary from state to state and it can be easy for employers to find themselves in a situation where an employee, looking to place a wrongful termination or unlawful harassment claim before a jury, challenges the previously-executed arbitration agreement. It is essential to regularly review the details of your arbitration agreement to ensure it's enforceable.

Please see full article below for more information.

LOADING PDF: If there are any problems, click here to download the file.

Written by:

Published In:

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Fisher & Phillips LLP | Attorney Advertising

Don't miss a thing! Build a custom news brief:

Read fresh new writing on compliance, cybersecurity, Dodd-Frank, whistleblowers, social media, hiring & firing, patent reform, the NLRB, Obamacare, the SEC…

…or whatever matters the most to you. Follow authors, firms, and topics on JD Supra.

Create your news brief now - it's free and easy »

All the intelligence you need, in one easy email:

Great! Your first step to building an email digest of JD Supra authors and topics. Log in with LinkedIn so we can start sending your digest...

Sign up for your custom alerts now, using LinkedIn ›

* With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name.