You can be bound to an arbitration agreement even if you did not sign the agreement.

In the case of Wright v. Hernandez, ___ S.W.3d ___, 2015 WL 4389582 (Tex. App.—El Paso 201) the El Paso, Court of Appeals held that an employee can be held to an arbitration agreement even if the employer did not sign the agreement. Arbitration is a process where the employee is forced to bring any claim he or she has not to court with a jury but to a third part (usually a lawyer). The reason that employers force these agreements upon their employees is because it is way to take away their rights to successfully bring legitimate claims for damages. Arbitration nearly always favor employers which is why they are the ones who draw the agreements and force them upon their employees. Your chances of winning in arbitration are way lower than in a jury trial. It is sad that our legal system and current judiciary has done everything they can to eliminate jury trials. They clearly don’t believe in the jury system that is the foundation of this country. Most countries do not have a jury system because they don’t trust the people to make sound judgments. In America we have always had the jury system because while it is not perfect it helps insulate the average person from the power of the rich and powerful. Unfortunately the rich and powerful now have control of our judiciary and as a result they are using arbitration to insulate themselves from the jury system that has made this country great. The Court system has said that an arbitration agreement must meet the same standards as any contract. Unfortunately while they have written such statements they rarely actually follow such statements if it is a powerless employee against the powerful employers who are more likely to support their campaigns for election as justices. While this mainly holds true for the Texas Supreme Court their decisions must by law be followed by the appellate courts, even if these courts do not believe in or support the Texas Supreme Courts decisions. In this case the El Paso Court of Appeals, following the Texas Supreme Court held that even if employers forget to sign the arbitration agreements they have presented to their employees. This would mean that the employer has not shown proof that they are to be bound by the arbitration agreement which is required under contract law. The court in this case held that while a signature is strong evidence of assent to be bound but is not necessarily essential to prove assent. A signature is essential only if the evidence shows that signing the agreement was a condition precedent for the formation of a contract. In this case, nothing in the form or text of the written agreement indicated that the employer’s signature was a condition precedent. In other words the agreement did not say that we are only bound even though a signature line was provided. The Court went on to state that other evidence showed that the employer did intend to be bound. The evidence included the fact that the employer drafted and presented the agreement, the employer preserved the agreement as a business record, and the employer moved to compel arbitration on the basis of the agreement. There was no evidence to the contrary, other than the lack of an employer signature, and therefore the district court erred in failing to compel arbitration. Sadly in any other context the fact that a party did not sign a contract and only sued upon it once it benefited them would probably be insufficient. Also can you imagine any other contract where the Court said even though a party did not sign the agreement they kept a copy in their desk drawer therefore they meant, even without signing it, to be bound. In arbitration the Courts of Appeals have learned that they must basically violate the basic rules of contract in favor of employers or the Texas Supreme Court will reverse their rulings. Another sad day for El Paso employees who are wrongfully terminated.

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