By Carlyn Kolker
Feb 27 (Reuters) - A form specifying that employment
disputes must be resolved through arbitration applies to a claim
of age discrimination, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has
After Gary Klein, an oil rig worker, sued Nabors Drilling
USA alleging age discrimination over his firing, the company
said he must arbitrate his dispute through the company. Nabors
cited an "acknowledgment form" that said employee disputes would
be handled through a corporate dispute resolution program.
U.S. District Court Judge Dee Drell of the Western District
of Louisiana ruled for Klein, saying the form was ambiguous and
did not call exclusively for arbitration. While similar
agreements are usually enforced "as a matter of course," this
one was not clear, Drell wrote.
But in a ruling on Tuesday a three-judge panel of the 5th
Circuit disagreed. "We find an unambiguous common intent that
arbitration is to be the final, binding method of resolution
under the program," Judge Edward Prado wrote for a panel that
also included Judges Edith Jones and Emilio Garza.
Klein's attorney, Daniel Broussard, and Nabors' attorney,
Mary Ellen King, did not immediately return calls for comment.
The case is Klein v. Nabors, U.S. Court of Appeals for the
5th Circuit, No. 11-30824.
For Klein: Daniel Broussard of Broussard Holcomb & Vizzier.
For Nabors: Mary Ellen King of Martin Disiere.
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