The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit recently held in Blanton v. Domino’s Pizza Franchising, No. 19-2388 that an arbitration agreement that incorporates the American Arbitration Association’s National Rules of Resolution of Employment Disputes gives “clear and unmistakable” evidence that the parties agreed to arbitrate the question of whether the dispute at issue is itself arbitrable. While the U.S. Supreme Court had not yet answered the precise question in front of the Sixth Circuit in Blanton, the Supreme Court had sketched out the likely answer. Accordingly, the Sixth Circuit followed the lead of at least 11 other circuits and concluded where an arbitration agreement incorporated the AAA rules was unequivocal evidence that the parties had agreed to arbitrate the question of arbitrability.
Domino’s requires its franchises to refrain from soliciting or hiring employees from other franchises. In Blanton Derek Piersing had worked at one Domino’s franchise and then signed on to work with a second franchise. When Piersing was hired by the second franchise, he signed an arbitration agreement that incorporated the AAA rules. The first franchise fired Piersing because it thought it was required to do so under its franchise agreement. Eventually, Piersing brought a class action lawsuit against Domino’s alleging its franchise agreement violated federal antitrust law. Domino’s moved to compel arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act.
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