The Second Circuit affirmed a New York district court ruling that found that the FINRA arbitration rules, one of which prohibits arbitration of putative or collective class actions, was incorporated within the subject employment agreement. Former financial advisers of the progeny of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. sued J.P. Morgan under state and federal law for violations of overtime laws. J.P. Morgan moved to compel arbitration pursuant to a clause within the advisers’ employment contracts. In denying their motion, the district court reasoned “that the arbitration clause requires arbitration of only those claims required to be arbitrated under the FINRA Rules and that, under New Rule 13204, Plaintiffs’ claims cannot be arbitrated.”
On appeal, J.P. Morgan argued against the trial court’s interpretation of the phrase “required to be arbitrated by the FINRA Rules” as well as the court’s use of the amended version of Rule 13204, which was not in effect when the parties originally entered into their contract. The court used a grammatical and definitional analysis to determine that the phrase applies to all claims and controversies. They also found that when JP Morgan agreed to arbitrate according to the FINRA rules, they also took on the risk that these rules may change. Regardless of that risk, the court noted that under either the original version of Rule 13204 or the amended version, FINRA prohibits the arbitration of collective class actions claims. Lloyd et al. v. JP Morgan Chase & Co. et al., No. 13-3963-cv (2d Cir. June 29, 2015).