September 1, 2022
California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal sided in part with Corinne Spencer and Antwoin Wall in Velasquez v. Northgate Gonzalez Markets, a case that raises questions about the validity of employee arbitration agreements that are signed electronically.
After former employee Velasquez filed suit against Northgate for a variety of employment-related claims, Northgate moved to compel arbitration based on two different arbitration agreements, one from 2015 and another from 2018. The trial court denied Northgate’s motion, finding that the 2018 agreement was invalid because it was not properly signed by Velasquez, and that the 2015 agreement was invalid because the 2018 agreement was intended to replace it. However, the appellate court agreed with the trial court on the validity of the 2018 agreement, reversing the trial court’s order pursuant to the validity of the 2015 agreement and allowing Northgate to move forward with arbitration.
This case highlights the legal challenges that employers may face when introducing new arbitration agreements or allowing employees to sign documents electronically. It is also a good sign for employers concerned about whether their employee arbitration agreements will hold up in court after the landmark ruling in Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana.