Teukolsky Law Asks Chateau Marmont To Reconsider Request To Move Lawsuit from Open Court To Secret Arbitration Proceedings
Last week, Teukolsky Law asked Chateau Marmont's attorney to reconsider the Chateau's request that TL client, Thomasina Gross, dismiss her race discrimination and sex harassment lawsuit against the famed Hollywood institution and refile her claims in private arbitration proceedings. Here is the letter:
Dear Mr. Stone:
We are in receipt of your March 10 letter in which you ask our client, Thomasina Gross, to dismiss the lawsuit she filed in Los Angeles Superior Court against your client, the Chateau Marmont, and instead file her race discrimination and sexual harassment claims with JAMS, a private arbitration company whose proceedings are not open to the public. We recognize that the arbitration agreement Ms. Gross signed when she started working for the Chateau appears to be enforceable. However, we would ask that you reconsider your request for the following reasons.
First, the Chateau’s treatment of its employees is a matter of substantial interest to the public and should accordingly be evaluated in a public forum, so that the public can make informed decisions about whether or not to give their business to the Chateau. Whereas arbitrations are essentially a “secret system controlled by the wrongdoers,” court cases ensure that the public has access to information that affects them. If Ms. Gross’s claims proceed in arbitration, none of the documents filed in the case will be a public record, and the testimony provided by witnesses will not be accessible to the public.
Second, a plaintiff’s ability to conduct discovery to learn information about the defendant’s case is far more constrained in arbitration than in court. For example, the JAMS Employment Arbitration Minimum Standards provide for only one deposition per party, while California state courts allow for the parties to take the depositions of all witnesses with relevant information. Given the nuances involved in evaluating a race discrimination and sexual harassment claim, we believe broader discovery is necessary.
Third, while forced arbitration is unfair to all workers (Americans are more likely to be struck by lightning than to win their cases in arbitration), it disproportionately affects female workers and Black workers, who are the most likely groups to be bound by forced arbitration. Meanwhile, only 28.84% of JAMS arbitrators are women, and only around 4% are African-American. We believe that our client, an African-American woman alleging race discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace, deserves to have her case heard by a jury of her peers that is reflective of the community of Los Angeles.
For these reasons, we would respectfully request that you permit Ms. Gross to proceed with her claims in court, and not require her to proceed in arbitration. We appreciate your consideration of our request.
Last Friday, Gavin Newsom signed SB 95, a bill that guarantees up to 80 hours of supplemental sick leave for employees affected by COVID-19. This includes workers required to quarantine and those needing to care for family members with COVID.
The protections will last through September 30 of this year and are retroactive to sick time beginning January 1 of this year. While businesses with 25 or fewer workers are exempt from the new law, they may receive a federal tax credit for offering supplemental paid sick leave.
This bill expands the types of employees entitled to supplemental paid sick leave by covering some of those who had been covered under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which expired at the end of 2020. With the expiration of that legislation, the only employees with expanded sick leave protections were those covered by local jurisdictions that had extended their ordinances. SB 95 covers employees across California who work for larger employers and are unable to work due to COVID-19 and picks up where FFCRA left off.
In addition to expanding worker eligibility, the bill expands the reasons employees can take time off work. For example, COVID-19 leave did not previously apply to time employees spent getting vaccinated or recovering from side effects of receiving the vaccine. Under SB 95, covered employees can now use the supplemental leave for these purposes.
If you believe you have been denied sick leave, contact Teukolsky Law today for a free consultation.
Lauren Teukolsky is the founder and owner of Teukolsky Law, A Professional Corporation.