A federal judge in Baltimore ruled that a gender discrimination lawsuit against Ripken Professional Baseball will continue, rejecting Ripken’s argument that the case should be dismissed or that arbitration should be compelled.
Interesting facts. Woman takes a job with Ripken Baseball in 2006 as an Account Representative. She gets promoted to Assistant General Manager of Ticket Sales in 2010. In 2011, she started dating a subordinate employee which she claims happened all the time at Ripken (like it does in the rest of the world) in spite of the fact that the employee handbook says it is a no-no. Ripken – not Cal, I’m referring to the organization – fires her, citing the relationship and, perhaps more importantly, that they told others to lie about the affair. The woman alleges that she was treated differently from her male colleagues who engaged in similar behavior with subordinates.
If true, maybe she was discriminated against? But that does not answer the question. Maybe she was discriminated against because she was not as good an employee as the others. The question, in this case, is whether she would have been fired if she was a man. Boy, that is a tough question for a judge or jury to figure out.
Anyway, the issue, for now, is in a much closer grasp: can Ripken compel arbitration? The court says no for two reasons. First, there was no consideration for the arbitration clause. But, more interestingly, at least to me because it might relate to nursing home cases, is that two defects in the arbitration agreement make it unfair and unconscionable because it denies the woman access to a neutral forum.
In this case, Ripken PSP’s arbitration provision gives them exclusive control over the list of arbitrators that may be used. In other words, the deck is stacked against the Plaintiff. We see this with insurance companies all the time. They want to use the same arbitrators that have never seen a case they can’t undervalue. It is just, the court concludes, not fair.
The arbitration clause Ripken wanted to invoke also failed to provide sufficient rules by which arbitration would proceed, giving the plaintiff no assurance of the procedural due process.
Boy, the local media has steered clear of this story. I mean, Cal may not have even met the woman. I can’t imagine he is remotely involved in these issues. But the fact that it is “Ripken baseball” does make it news. I think it is fair to say – and maybe he has earned it – that Cal Ripken would get at least one free murder in Baltimore without consequences.
(If you are reading this post, please keep in mind my firm does not handle gender discrimination or any other types of employment claims. We handle only serious personal injury cases. That’s it!)