Determined whether the Federal Arbitration Act permits employers to require employees to arbitrate employment discrimination claims.
This case was brought by Saint Clair Adams who alleged numerous incidents of harassment and retaliation based on his sexual orientation when he worked as a salesperson at Circuit City.
When he applied to work at Circuit City, Adams signed a form agreeing to arbitrate any dispute that might later arise concerning his application or subsequent employment by Circuit City. Adams was required to sign that agreement as a condition of his employment. On March 21, 2001, the Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that the Federal Arbitration Act permits employers to require employees to arbitrate employment discrimination claims. Although a victory for employers, Circuit City was decided on narrow grounds. It does not, for instance, address what limits might be placed on mandatory arbitration by Title VII and other civil rights laws. It also does not address whether arbitration can limit class actions or punitive damages for civil rights violations. Legal Momentum participated as amicus in the case with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and numerous other civil rights groups supporting the plaintiff.