Fox Rothschild Obtains Order Compelling Arbitration for WorleyParsons in Title VII Employee Dispute

February 5, 2008

Chester County, PA – Fox Rothschild LLP has helped client WorleyParsons obtain an Order compelling arbitration, under the WorleyParsons Employee Dispute Resolution Program, of a Title VII action filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Ghansham Abichandani v. WorleyParsons, Inc.

The motion to compel arbitration was filed by Fox Rothschild on behalf of WorleyParsons in response to a challenge to WorleyParsons’ Employee Dispute Resolution Program, which requires employees to resolve workplace disputes with the company through mediation and arbitration, rather than through the courts and juries.

“We want our employees to know that our program is fair and that it works,” said Chuck Kemper, Vice President of Human Resources for WorleyParsons’ US Region. “It is designed to be fair and reasonable, and the decision to compel arbitration confirms that. We’re pleased with the decision, and with the aid and guidance Fox Rothschild provided us through this process.”

“This is an excellent result for our client,” said Randall C. Schauer, a partner in the firm’s Labor & Employment Department. “Arbitration in instances like these is a reasonable, cost-effective choice for both parties, and we appreciate for WorleyParsons, and other employers, that this program has been approved by the courts.”

The plaintiff, an American citizen of Asian/East Indian origin, worked as a principal estimator for WorleyParsons for one year during 2005-2006. He claimed that during that time, he was subject to harassment based upon race and age. The plaintiff, who had received a copy of the Employee Dispute Resolution Program Employee Agreement two weeks prior to hire, and had at that time been invited by the company to review it with an attorney, took his claims to the EEOC, who refused the case. Despite the Agreement’s direction to proceed to arbitration, the plaintiff filed suit in the Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania, filing under Title VII with an additional claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The court found that the plaintiff’s complaint falls within WorleyParsons’ Agreement – which the plaintiff argued was unconscionable. The judge found the plaintiff’s arguments unconvincing – and that WorleyParsons’ Agreement did not unreasonably favor the company – and granted WorleyParsons’ motion to compel arbitration.

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