Major WIN for Hogue & Belong Against P.F. Changs Allowing 16 Year Old Former Employee to Litigate her Sexual Harassment Claims in Open Court
In a move to avoid further litigation over sexual harassment claims at several of its restaurants, P.F. Chang’s attempted to enforce an arbitration agreement signed by one of its 16 year old former employees – Hunter Kidner. Ms. Kidner is represented by Hogue & Belong.
On June 24, 2015, P.F. Chang’s asked the Court to compel Ms. Hunter’s sexual harassment claims to a confidential arbitration. P.F. Chang’s claimed that Ms. Kidner entered into an agreement stating that any dispute she had with P.F. Chang’s had to be resolved confidentially in arbitration, not in open court or before a jury. This agreement was buried in a stack of “new hire” paperwork. According to a number of employees, P.F. Chang’s rushes its employees to sign the “new hire” paperwork with little, if any, time to review those documents or explanation as to what documents are actually being signed and the impact of those documents.
Ultimately, the Court denied P.F. Chang’s request, finding that even if P.F. Chang’s entered into an agreement with Ms. Kidner to arbitrate her sexual harassment claims, Ms. Kidner was a minor at the time and thus did not have the capacity to contract. The Court further explained that Ms. Kidner disaffirmed any arbitration agreement by bringing the lawsuit and that her sexual harassment claims should be litigated in an open public forum.
After the ruling, Ms. Kidner’s attorney, Bryce Dodds, stated, “P.F. Chang’s should simply not expect that arbitration agreements it forces minors to enter into will hold up in court.”
Trial is set for June 21, 2016.