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Brandon Grey v. American Management Services et al

March 28, 2012

BRANDON GREY, PLAINTIFF AND APPELLANT,
v.
AMERICAN MANAGEMENT SERVICES ET AL., DEFENDANTS AND RESPONDENTS



(Los Angeles County Super. Ct. No. BC412760) APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Alan S. Rosenfield, Judge. Reversed and remanded with directions.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Epstein, P. J.

CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION

Appellant Brandon Grey appeals from a judgment of the trial court confirming an arbitration award in favor of respondents. Grey contends he was not required to submit his claims to arbitration under the terms of his employment contract. We agree. We reverse the judgment and remand with directions for further proceedings.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL SUMMARY

Respondent American Management Services (AMS) is a residential and commercial property management company. In June 2006, Grey applied for a position as an investment manager. AMS provided all applicants with an application packet. This packet contained an Issue Resolution Agreement (IRA), which AMS required all applicants to sign as a condition to having their application considered by AMS. The IRA provided that the applicant agrees to "settle any and all previously unasserted claims, disputes or controversies arising out of or relation to [the] application or candidacy for employment, employment, and/or cessation of employment with [AMS] exclusively by final and binding arbitration before a neutral Arbitrator." Attached to the IRA were issue resolution rules, which described the arbitration procedure. Grey signed the IRA.

On July 3, Grey accepted employment with AMS. AMS required Grey to sign an employment contract. In the "Remedies" section, this contract provided that "a dispute arising out of the alleged breach of any other provision of this Agreement . . . [¶] . . . shall be submitted to final and binding arbitration." A subsequent provision further stated: "This Agreement is the entire agreement between the parties in connection with Employee's employment with [AMS], and supersedes all prior and contemporaneous discussions and understandings." In the next paragraph, the contract provided: "Employee acknowledges that this Agreement is supplemented by such general employment policies and procedures as [AMS] may implement from time to time. Employee agrees that it is his sole responsibility to remain informed about all applicable general employment policies and guidelines of [AMS] that may be contained in the Employee Handbook or posted on [AMS's] Intranet site." The IRA and the attached issue resolution rules were posted on AMS's intranet.

On April 30, 2009, Grey filed a complaint in superior court against AMS and its then executive Scott Mencaccy. Grey alleged that Mencaccy harassed and ultimately discharged Grey on the basis of his sexual orientation. The complaint stated causes of action for: (1) employment discrimination, harassment, and retaliation on the basis of sexual orientation (Gov. Code, § 12900 et seq.); (2) failure to pay wages (Lab. Code, § 200 et seq.); (3) intentional infliction of emotional distress; (4) defamation and compelled self-defamation; and (5) wrongful termination of employment in violation of public policy.

AMS and Mencaccy petitioned the court to compel Grey to arbitrate his claims under the terms of the IRA. Grey opposed this petition, contending that (1) the contract supersedes the IRA, and (2) the IRA is unconscionable.

The court granted the petition and ordered Grey to arbitrate his claims.

Grey petitioned this court for a writ of mandate. (Grey v. Superior Court (August 27, 2009, B217803).) We denied the petition.

The parties proceeded with binding arbitration. The arbitrator found in favor of AMS and awarded AMS its costs. Grey moved to vacate the award. The trial court confirmed the award. This timely appeal followed.

DISCUSSION

I

Appellant argues the contract superseded the IRA. Because the contract has a narrower scope of arbitrable claims than the IRA, he contends the contract does not ...


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