Texas Federal Court Compels Arbitration of Civil Rights Claims but Stays Proceedings to Avoid Future Statute of Limitations Issues

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The plaintiff filed suit for alleged civil rights violations arising from his former employment with the defendant. The defendant moved to dismiss and compel arbitration, citing an arbitration clause in the plaintiff’s employment agreement. A provision in the arbitration agreement placed a limit on the number of allowable depositions and special interrogatory requests but authorized the arbitrator to allow additional discovery he or she deemed appropriate. The plaintiff conceded that he signed the arbitration agreement but claimed the discovery limitations rendered it unconscionable and thus unenforceable, including because they were more restrictive than the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The court disagreed, noting that the U.S. Supreme Court considered and rejected an almost identical argument in Gilmer v. Interstate/Johnson Lane Corp. The plaintiff also cited no authority in which an arbitration clause was deemed unconscionable on the ground that its discovery restrictions were more onerous than the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The court therefore granted the defendant’s motion to compel arbitration but did not dismiss the action, choosing instead to stay the proceedings to preserve the plaintiff’s claims in the event they are not resolved by arbitration.

Pirzada v. AAA Texas, LLC, No. 4:21-cv-00664 (S.D. Tex. June 15, 2021).

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