Former human resource director's deceiving employer she had executed arbitration agreement neither implies agreement nor estops her from denying.
In Gorlach v. The Sports Club Company. B233672 (filed October 16, 2012), the Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Four, affirmed the trial court's denying defendant's motion to compel arbitration. While the defendant conceded that plaintiff never signed a written contract to arbitrate, defendant claimed equitable estoppel or implied-in-fact agreement.
Plaintiff Susan Gorlach resigned as defendant's human resource director in August 2010. Prior to 2010, defendant had no arbitration agreement with its employees. It then revised its employee handbook to contain such an agreement and tasked plaintiff to get all employees to sign. Through July 2010, not all employees had signed, prompting plaintiff to write company executives to consider what to do about employees who failed to sign. She led executives to believe she had signed, when in fact she had not. She resigned August 6, 2010, and later sued defendant for constructive termination including a cause of action claiming paramour sexual harassment.
Defendant Sports Club moved to compel arbitration contending plaintiff assented to it by her continued employment, yet acknowledging that she had not executed the arbitration agreement. The trial court found that, while plaintiff "intentionally misled" defendant to believe she was "on board" with the new agreement, she never planned on signing it, thus there was no basis to find that an agreement to arbitrate existed between the parties.