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Media Alerts - Owen v. Bristol Care, Inc. - 8th Circuit
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February 22, 2013
  Owen v. Bristol Care, Inc. - 8th Circuit
Headline Eighth Circuit panel rules concludes that a Mandatory Arbitration Agreement is valid in a case alleging claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act even if the agreement contains a class action waiver provision

Area of Law Employment Litigation, Class Action Waivers

Issue(s) Presented Is a waiver of potential class action proceedings enforceable in an employment agreement context?

Brief Summary Plaintiff Owen was an employee of Defendant Bristol Care. At the time of employment, the two parties entered into a Mandatory Arbitration Agreement. The agreement contained a provision that prohibited the parties "from arbitrating claims subject to [the] Agreement as, or on behalf of, a class." In subsequent litigation between Owen and Bristol Care, the federal district court ruled that the class action waiver was unenforceable, because such waivers "are invalid in [Fair Labor Standards Act] cases because the FLSA provides for the right to bring a class action."

On appeal, a panel of the Eighth Circuit reversed. "Owen identifies nothing in either the text or legislative history of the FLSA that indicates a congressional intent to bar employees from agreeing to arbitrate FLSA claims individually, nor is there an "inherent conflict" between the FLSA and the [Federal Arbitration Act]."

Moreover, the panel rejected the reasoning of the National Labor Relations Board in In re D.R. Horton, Inc., 357 NLRB No. 184, 2012 WL 36274 (Jan. 3, 2012). In that decision, the NLRB had ruled that a class action waiver in an FLSA challenge was invalid because "such a waiver conflicted with the rights protected by Section 7 of the [National Labor Relations Act]."

The full text of the opinion may be found at

Panel Circuit Judges Smith, Beam, and Gruender

Argument Date November 13, 2012

Date of Issued Opinion January 7, 2013

Docket Number No. 12-1719

Decided Reversed

Counsel Shelly Irene Ericsson for Appellant; John E. Campbell for Appellee
Author of the Opinion Circuit Judge Gruender

Case Alert Circuit Supervisor Bradley G. Clary, Clinical Professor of Law, University of Minnesota Law School

    Posted By: Bradley Clary @ 02/22/2013 02:07 PM     8th Circuit  

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