Late last year, a district court judge in Connecticut granted Defendant General Electric’s (“GE”) motion to compel arbitration based on Plaintiff’s signature to GE’s Acknowledgement Conditions of Employment Form. Ms. Pingel, plaintiff, was hired by GE in 2006. Four years later she brought a discrimination action against GE, which was later resolved. As part of that resolution, Ms. Pingel received a new position within GE. That employment was contingent on Ms. Pingel signing an employment contract containing agreed upon procedures for alternative dispute resolution. GE did not provide a hard copy of these procedures to Ms. Pingel, but did provide the location of these forms online. Both parties signed the agreement. Two and a half years later, Ms. Pingel was fired. She subsequently sued for discrimination, and GE moved to compel arbitration.
Ms. Pingel opposed the motion to compel arbitration alleging (1) the agreement to arbitrate was unconscionable and (2) the parties did not have a meeting of the minds when the contract was signed. The court did not find these arguments dispositive. First, to find an agreement to arbitrate unconscionable, the provision need be oppressive or particularly one sided. The court found that as “the delegation provision equally binds both parties [this] weighs heavily against such a conclusion.” The court further noted that general challenges to a contract, here unconscionability of the arbitration agreement, does not necessarily preclude the enforcement of said agreement. That issue is for the arbitrator to decide. Ms. Pingel did not allege any specific unconscionable provisions within the arbitration agreement; therefore the general allegations are better decided by an arbitrator. Finally, as Ms. Pingel signed the acknowledgment form, the court found this compelling evidence to show a meeting of the minds. The court noted that ignorance from failing to read a contract is not a winning argument.
The District court therefore granted GE’s motion to compel arbitration on all of Ms. Pingel’s claims. Pingle v. General Electric Company, Case No. 3:14– 00632 (CSH) (USDC D. Conn. Dec. 19, 2014).