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Johnmohammadi v. Bloomingdale's, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

June 23, 2014

FATEMEH JOHNMOHAMMADI, individually and on behalf of other persons similarly situated, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
BLOOMINGDALE'S, INC., Defendant-Appellee

Argued and Submitted, Pasadena, California December 6, 2013.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California. D.C. No. 2:11-cv-06434-GW-AJW. George H. Wu, District Judge, Presiding.

SUMMARY[**]

Arbitration / Class Action

The panel affirmed the district court's order granting the motion of Bloomingdale's, Inc. to compel arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act, and dismissing without prejudice the putative class action brought by a former employee to recover unpaid overtime wages.

The arbitration agreement, contained in Bloomingdale's employment documents, provided that employees who fail to opt out waive their right to pursue employment-related claims on a collective basis in any forum, judicial or arbitral.

The panel held that the district court correctly held that the arbitration agreement was valid, and under the Federal Arbitration Act it must be enforced according to its terms. The panel held that the employee had the right to opt out of the arbitration agreement, and had she done so she would be free to pursue this class action in court. The panel further held that having freely elected to arbitrate employment-related disputes on an individual basis, without interference from Bloomingdale's, the employee could not claim that enforcement of the arbitration agreement violated either the Norris-LaGuardia Act or the National Labor Relations Act.

Dennis F. Moss (argued), Sherman Oaks, California; Ira Spiro, Spiro Moore, LLP, Los Angeles, California; Sahag Majarian II, Law Offices of Sahag Majarian II, Tarzana, California, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

David E. Martin (argued) and Catherine E. Sison, Macy's Inc., St. Louis, Missouri; John S. Curtis, Law Offices of Julia Azrael, North Hollywood, California, for Defendant-Appellee.

Andrew J. Pincus (argued), Evan M. Tager, Archis A. Parasharami, and Richard B. Katskee, Mayer Brown LLP, Washington, D.C.; Robin S. Conrad and Shane B. Kawka, National Chamber Litigation Center, Inc., Washington, D.C., for Amicus Curiae Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America.

Cliff Palefsky and Scott Stillman, McGuinn, Hillsman & Palefsky, San Francisco, California, for Amicus Curiae California Employment Lawyers Association.

Jeffrey A. Berman and James M. Harris, Seyfarth Shaw LLP, Los Angeles, California, for Amicus Curiae California Employment Law Council.

Before: John T. Noonan and Paul J. Watford, Circuit Judges, and William E. Smith, Chief District Judge.[*]

OPINION


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