Arbitration Agreement Clothes Employer with Protection from Stripper’s FLSA Claims
The Northern District of Georgia’s recent opinion in Stevenson v. Great American Dream, Inc., occurs at the intersection of two legal trends: the first is a wave of FLSA lawsuits by “adult entertainers,” both in Georgia and nationwide, against their strip club employers. The second is a series of federal and state decisions, several discussed here (and here), strengthening employer’s right to compel arbitration of such claims.
In Stevenson, the plaintiff—an adult entertainer—attempted to opt in to an FLSA collective action against Pin Ups Nightclub. The defendant moved to compel arbitration. The contract required the plaintiff to arbitrate “any covered claim” against Pin Ups including, specifically, “claims arising under the FLSA.” The district court had little difficulty determining that the contract required the plaintiff to arbitrate, summarily rejecting her arguments that the contract did not cover her FLSA claim, that the contract was unconscionable, and that defendants waived their right to invoke it.
This decision constitutes yet another example of the judicial tilt in favor of enforcement of arbitration agreements. Of course, Pin Ups was helped by the fact that its arbitration agreement expressly covered FLSA claims. So, employers, learn from the strip clubs and make sure your arbitration agreements broadly extend to any and all potential claims, including FLSA claims.