Joining the majority of courts, the Michigan Court of Appeals held on April 9 that employers may require employees to arbitrate statutory employment claims, provided that the procedure is fair and does not waive any substantive rights. Moreover, the agreement to arbitrate may be imposed as a condition of employment.
The plaintiff, a bread maker, sued the defendant restaurant for race and disability discrimination under state civil rights laws, for constructive discharge and for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The defendant moved for summary disposition based on the arbitration agreement the plaintiff signed at the time of hiring. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion. A panel of the Court of Appeals reversed, stating that it was doing so only because it was obligated to follow the Court of Appeals decision in Rushton v. Meijers, which held that predispute arbitration agreements are invalid as a matter of public policy. In so holding the court invoked a Michigan procedure allowing a special panel of the Court of Appeals to decide the Rembert case anew.