Campbell v. General Dynamics Government Systems
407 F.3d 546 (1st Cir. 2005)
Campbell worked for General Dynamics. He was fired after repeatedly missing work and showing up late. Campbell argued that this was due to his sleep apnea, and the company should’ve provided reasonable accommodations for his condition. He sued under the ADA.
- General Dynamics argued that all disputes were subject to arbitration as part of the company’s new dispute resolution policy.
- The policy was emailed to the workforce, with links to brochures that provided additional details.
- The email didn’t state when the policy would become effective.
- It didn’t specify that there was an agreement to arbitrate.
- The employer didn’t even take steps to record whether the employees even clicked on the links.
The district court determined that the company’s efforts to notify the plaintiff about the Policy were insufficient to extinguish his right to a judicial forum vis-à-vis his disability discrimination claims.
Whether, under the totality of the circumstances, the employer’s communication would have provided a reasonably prudent employee notice of the waiver.
“To be blunt, the e-mail announcement undersold the significance of the Policy and omitted the critical fact that it contained a mandatory arbitration agreement.”
- E-mail is a familiar format for many forms of intra-office communication, but it does not mean that e-mail was a traditional means for conveying contractually binding terms or for effectuating waivers of employees’ legal rights.
Rule: The appropriateness of enforcing an agreement to arbitrate an ADA claim hinges on whether, under the totality of the circumstances, the employer’s communication would have provided a reasonably prudent employee notice of the waiver.