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Company cannot enforce arbitration agreement without proof that employee had "agreed."

Maureen Hergenreder sued Bickfor Senior Living Group alleging she was terminated in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The employer argued that she was bound by an arbitration agreement which was included in an "Eby Company Dispute Resolution Procedure" to which reference was made in the Employee Handbook. Hergenreder claimed she had never seen the Dispute Resolution Procedure and knew nothing about its content.  The Defendant claimed it was disseminated to all employees, but could not provide any detail about how or in what manner Hergenreder received a copy.  On this basis, the Sixth Circuit held that Hergenreder could not be claimed to have knowingly waived her constitutional rights. The Court reversed the District Court judge, pointing out that there was no proof that Hergenreder had even been informed of the existence of an "arbitration" agreement--let alon that she had understood and accepted the terms of the agreement.  It is nice to know that there is SOME limitation on what the courts will "presume" an employee has agreed to when the employee accepts an employee handbook with his or her paycheck.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
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Traverse City, Michigan 49684
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