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Contractual Provision Flattens Class Action in Federal Court

A tire technician who claims he was among many workers shorted wages by a global retailer saw his bid for a day in federal court denied by judicial interpretation of the employment contract he signed but did not read. District Judge Andrea R. Wood said that by clicking through an agreement that mandated disputes be settled in arbitration, Daniel Cervantes voided his right seek other forms of legal redress. She sided with Brigestone, parent of the Firestone Complete Auto Care center where Cervantes worked, saying the company provided adequate notice and exercised due consideration in setting out the terms of its dispute-resolution procedure. Cervantes, who claims he was paid neither a wage minimum nor overtime after he transferred to Tinley Park, Will County, sought to sue the company under state and federal employment law.

However, Wood declined to rule on his claims that the company violated both the Illinois Minimum Wage Law and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. That’s because Cervantes had previously agreed to binding arbitration of wage disputes as part of an onboarding agreement he’d signed with the Japanese company in Tennessee, where he’d been hired initially. Cervantes’ admission that he’d glanced over the provision on resolving disputes at the behest of a supervisor didn’t absolve him from “knowing and voluntary” compliance with the agreement, Wood said. She cited case law in writing that Bridgestone’s willingness to abide by the final and binding decisions rendered in arbitration was “sufficient consideration” under the traditional standards of contract law.

The Chicagoland Law Firm represents clients in Will County and across the state in all aspects of employment law. If you are involved in a dispute over wages or have doubts about the veracity and application of contract language, contact our offices in Chicago and Downers Grove for a free consultation. Our employment lawyer can help assess the merits of your claim and the avenues available to you for redress should you retain us. We know how to make the law work for you.