Many contracts these days contain arbitration provisions where the parties agree they will not take their disputes to court, but to a third party arbitrator to decide the issues.
In injury cases, I just plain do not like arbitration. I think juries should decide whether someone has suffered an injury, not an attorney at the end of a conference table.
In Virginia non-compete employment cases, my feelings towards arbitration are mixed.
Last month, Rob Dean and myself argued that an arbitration provision in our client’s contract was not binding on our client and therefore, he was allowed to seek federal court’s opinion on the enforceability of his contract.
Here is a summary of what the court said about the arbitration clause in the non-compete contract.
Hamden v. Total Car Franchising Corp.
The federal court here in Roanoke found that indeed the parties had not come to an agreement about arbitration, and the plaintiff was therefore allowed to seek judicial intervention.
A few years ago however, our client was forced to arbitrate her contract with an ex-employer. We argued that the contract was unreasonable and therefore unenforceable as a matter of Virginia law, and therefore it didn’t matter whether our client was in breach. We won the case and our client was free to work as she pleased.
So is it good or bad that your employment contract has an arbitration clause?
Stated simply – it depends.
We may fight them for clients as we recently did for Mr. Hamden, or, we may agree to arbitration as we did with Mrs. Rowe. Every case is different and therefore so is our approach.
If you have a Virginia non-compete or business litigation / business tort question, case or contract you need reviewed, do not hesitate to call our office at 1-866-985-0098, today.