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.
Lauren Teukolsky Quoted In Daily Journal About Non-Disclosure Agreements Preventing African-American Employees From Discussing Their WOrkplace Experiences of Racism
The Daily Journal published a front page article today discussing non-disclosure agreements that prevent African-American employees who have settled their claims out of court from speaking about their workplace experiences of racism. Lauren Teukolsky is quoted about the parallels between the Black Lives Matter movement and the #metoo movement, and her prediction that the political pressure generated by BLM may eventually result in the California Legislature banning non-disclosure agreements in all harassment and discrimination cases (they are currently banned only in sexual harassment cases).
The Daily Journal article states: “The two bills [one of which prohibits non-disclosure agreements in sex harassment settlements] were among several that came out of the #MeToo movement, which ‘created intense political pressure for women who had previously been bound by confidentiality agreements to come forward and be able to tell their stories without fear of retribution,' said Lauren Teukolsky, who represents employees at Teukolsky Law APC. 'There is absolutely a parallel that can be drawn between #meToo and the Black Lives Matter movement,' she said. 'As the Black Lives Matter movement grows and expands, I do think there is going to be a push in the Legislature to end non-disclosure agreements potentially in all discrimination cases and in all harassment cases. There’s just no reason why the ban on NDAs should be limited to sexual harassment.'"
If you have experienced harassment or discrimination in the workplace, contact us today for a free consultation.
Lauren Teukolsky is the founder and owner of Teukolsky Law, A Professional Corporation.