I’ve written several posts advocating the advantages of employer’s use of waivers of jury trials to resolve employment disputes with employees. (See posts here and here). To recap, the mutual waiver of jury trial provides the employer and employee a fair way to resolve employment disputes without some of the disadvantages that other forms of alternative dispute resolution present. The Fort Worth Court of Appeals recently enforced an employer’s agreement with its employee to waive the jury trial of any disputes between them.
In In re Frank Kent Motor Company, the Court of Appeals found that the waiver of jury trial provisions contained in the employer’s handbook, and that the employee was aware of, was enforceable even though the employee argued he did not sign the acceptance of the waiver knowingly, voluntarily or intelligently. The employee argued that his acceptance of the policy was not knowing and voluntary because he feared he would lose his job if he did not sign the agreement; he wasn’t represented by a lawyer when he signed; he refused on two prior occasions to sign the agreement; the agreement was not negotiated and the employer indicated no willingness to negotiate changes; and his supervisor told him he had no choice but to sign the agreement. Despite these allegations, the Court of Appeals found the allegations insufficient to overcome the presumption that the agreement was knowingly and voluntarily accepted.
You can find a copy of the full opinion in In re Frank Kent Motor Company here.