Arbitration Denied Where Employer Failed To Authenticate Employee’s Signature On Arbitration Agreement
In Gamboa v. Northeast Community Clinic, 72 Cal.App.5th 158 (2021), the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s decision to deny arbitration due to the employer’s failure to satisfy its burden of proving that the employee signed the employer’s arbitration agreement. The employer provided the trial court with an arbitration agreement that appeared to be signed by a representative of the employer and an employee, along with a declaration from a human resources official indicating that the plaintiff had signed the arbitration agreement (but lacking any foundational facts such as that the official witnessed the plaintiff signing the agreement). The plaintiff, however, filed a declaration in support of her opposition, stating that: (1) she reviewed the arbitration agreement attached to the official’s declaration but does “not remember these documents at all”; (2) before this case, no one had ever told her about an arbitration agreement or explained what it was; and (3) if she had known about the arbitration agreement and had been told about its provisions, she would not have signed it. In affirming, the Court of Appeal stated: “By not providing any specific details about the circumstances surrounding the contract’s execution, the defendant’s declarant offered little more than a bare statement that the plaintiff entered into the contract without offering any facts to support that assertion. This left a critical gap in the evidence supporting the defendant’s petition.” (cleaned up).