Yesterday, Judge Torresen of the U.S. District Court of Maine held that Great Falls Insurance Company’s former CEO must pursue his age discrimination and related employment law claims against the company, and others affiliated with it, in arbitration. An arbitrator is a private individual, not affiliated with the courts, who essentially serves as judge and jury in cases where the parties agree to such a procedure. For a variety of reasons, many believe that arbitration is an unfair process for employees.
Van Curan opposed Great Falls’ motion and argued that the judge must decide whether the arbitration agreement he signed was enforceable. Judge Torresen reasoned that the arbitration agreement incorporated the Employment Rules of the American Arbitration Association and those rules permit arbitrators to decide whether an arbitration agreement is enforceable. Furthermore, Judge Torresen held that even some of the defendants who did not sign the arbitration agreement could take advantage of it anyway because Van Curan had argued that Great Falls and these other defendants were actually all part of the same enterprise.