Jock, et al. v. Sterling Jewelers Inc.

Arbitration Agreement Silent on Class Arbitration

U.S. Chamber's Position: 

NCLC urged the Second Circuit to affirm a district court’s holding that a party must agree to class arbitration before an arbitrator can compel that party to participate. In this case, a group of female retail employees sued their employer for alleged gender discrimination. The district court vacated an arbitration panel’s ruling for the plaintiffs and held that the arbitration agreement did not permit class arbitration because the agreement remained silent on the issue. NCLC argued that this case is similar to Stolt-Nielsen v. AnimalFeeds International, in which the Supreme Court held that arbitration agreements silent on class arbitration do not permit class arbitration. NCLC warned that allowing class arbitration to proceed would be a significant departure from requirements under the Federal Arbitration Act.

Case Outcome: 

The Second Circuit reversed the district court and reinstated the award.  The court distinguished Stolt-Nielsen differently than NCLC, and found that the arbitrator acted within her authority in reaching her decision.

Procedural History: 

Amicus brief filed 12/8/10. Decided 07/01/11.