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Employment Law Click here for the full text of this decision The consideration here ( the combination of the employee’s application and the employer’s responding offer of employment ( is in no way dependent on a period of continued employment in the context of a covenant to arbitrate claims that arise from the period of actual employment, regardless of how long it might continue. FACTS:Upon employment with Bay Ltd., Edmond Hadnot signed an arbitration agreement, which included a provision prohibiting an arbitrator from awarding punitive or exemplary damages. When Hadnot filed suit against his employer alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress and racial discrimination under Title VII, Bay moved to compel arbitration. The arbitrator granted the motion to compel arbitration, but the arbitrator first severed the portion of the agreement restricting the award of punitive and exemplary damages. Hadnot appeals, first arguing that the agreement as a whole is unenforceable because it lacked consideration. He then argues that the portion restricting damages was so integral to the agreement as a whole, that when it was invalidated, the whole agreement should have been invalidated, too. HOLDING:Affirmed. Hadnot cites two Texas Supreme Court opinions, Light v. Centel Cellular Co., 883 S.W.2d 642 (Tex. 1994), and In Re Halliburton Co. and Brown & Root Energy Services, 80 S.W.3d 566 (Tex. 2002), for the proposition that an arbitration agreement premised only on the offer and continuation of at-will employment is unsupported by valid consideration. Light is distinguishable from this case, the court rules, because it dealt with a covenant not to compete ancillary to an arbitration agreement, where the promise of future employment is illusory and totally within the control of one side; the agreement lacked consideration. Here, the agreement was in no way dependent on a period of continued employment in the context of a covenant to arbitrate that arise from the period of actual employment, regardless of how long that employment might continue. “Here, the application, offer, and acceptance all occurred at the “front end’ of the employment relationship. None is dependent on continued employment, and none is illusory, because any eventual arbitration will, of necessity, relate to conduct that occurred during the term of employment � even if only a day or so � unlike proscribed competition which by definition can occur only after employment terminates.” Halliburtondid not apply, either, the court found. The court also found that the limitation on punitive damages was properly severed but that its exclusion from the rest of the agreement did not render the whole agreement invalid. No limitation can be put on punitive damages in Title VII discrimination claims, the court agrees, so without that restriction, an arbitrator will be free to fulfill the function of anti-discrimination statutes. OPINION:Wiener, J.; Jolly, Smith and Wiener, JJ.

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