The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently confirmed an arbitration award in an underlying employment dispute, finding that the appellant failed to demonstrate that the award was the product of corruption and adhering to the “exceedingly deferential” standard of review of an arbitrator’s factual findings required by the Federal Arbitration Act.
Plaintiff Tommy L. Parker brought suit against his former employer, ETB Management, L.L.C., alleging age discrimination and retaliation. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas compelled arbitration of the dispute, and an arbitrator found in ETB’s favor after hearing witness testimony and analyzing documentary evidence and briefing. After the District Court confirmed the award, Parker appealed seeking vacatur under the FAA on the grounds that the award was “procured by corruption” and that the arbitrator acted with “evidence of partiality or corruption.” Specifically, Parker argued that the arbitrator ignored conflicting statements given by ETB’s witnesses regarding the events that immediately preceded Parker’s firing, and thus that there was no factual basis to support the arbitrator’s findings. The Fifth Circuit rejected Parker’s arguments, declining to reexamine the witness credibility determinations of the arbitrator pursuant to the deferential standard of review afforded to arbitral decisions under the FAA, and noting that Parker had failed to make any showing that the arbitrator or the process was corrupt. Parker v. ETB Management L.L.C., No. 15-11128 (5th Cir. Aug. 4, 2016).