Gibson v. Nye Frontier Ford
This was a case alleging that an employee at a car dealership was misclassified under the state’s wage and hour laws, so that he would not receive overtime.
The trial court ordered that the employee had to arbitrate his claims. The case was appealed to the Alaska Supreme Court, where the employee argued (a) that he could not be forced to arbitrate his claims unless the employer was required to pay all of the costs of arbitration beyond the forum fees that he would have been required to pay in court; (b) that the arbitration clause was unconscionable because it allowed the employer to re-write or amend the clause unilaterally at any time; and (c) that the arbitration clause was unconscionable because it had a selective appeal provision that made it likely that if the employee won in arbitration that the employer could appeal the decision, but not if the employer won in the arbitration. The Alaska Supreme Court struck down the unilateral amendment and the selective appeal provision, and ordered the case to arbitration on the condition that the employer pay all of the costs of arbitration. In the arbitration that followed, the employer prevailed.
Public Justice’s Paul Bland was lead counsel in the Alaska Supreme Court, with Ken Legacki of Anchorage.