In our last post, we spoke a bit about some of the commonly known risks for employees when it comes to arbitration agreements. Generally speaking, arbitration agreements are legal, and they are commonly used by employers in employment contracts. In many cases, prospective employees don’t have the ability to negotiate the terms surrounding arbitration agreements, but disputes can still arise regarding these agreements.
When disputes do arise with respect to an arbitration agreement, the principles of contract law apply, but Minnesota courts tend to look favorably on arbitration. Minnesota courts have upheld arbitration agreements in a variety of questionable circumstances. Mental incompetence and coercion, as well as the inability of one party to negotiate the terms of the agreement, are not necessarily going to work against the validity of an arbitration agreement.
Under Minnesota law, courts have the power to decide whether there is an agreement to arbitrate, whether the arbitration agreement is enforceable, and whether a controversy is subject to an arbitration agreement, except in cases involving collective bargaining agreements.
Other issues that can come up with respect to arbitration agreements include the question of whether a contract containing a valid arbitration agreement is enforceable, whether a party has waived arbitration by initiating litigation, and whether prerequisites to arbitration have been met. Courts are not the arbiter of decisions whenever a dispute regarding an arbitration agreement comes up. In some cases, arbitration is the proper forum to resolve the issue.
For employees, of course, it is important to see to it that any such contract disputes are resolved in the proper forum. In our next post, we’ll continue this discussion by looking at a couple other issues related to arbitration and why it is important to work with an experienced attorney.