Employees May Be Required to Arbitrate Section 1981 Race Discrimination Claims.


Relying on Title VII precedent, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found that race discrimination claims under Section 1981 can be subjected to mandatory arbitration.

In Lambert v. Tesla Inc. dba Tesla Motors Inc., the Ninth Circuit for the first time addressed the arbitrability of Section 1981 claims. The Ninth Circuit, as well as a number of sister Circuits, has previously found that Title VII claims may be subject to compulsory arbitration, while rejecting the argument that compulsory arbitration weakens Title VII. In that prior holding, the Ninth Circuit noted the U.S. Supreme Court’s position that “arbitration affects only the choice of forum, not substantive rights.” The Ninth Circuit in the present case then relied on that Title VII holding to expand arbitrability to Section 1981, finding that both statutes address employment discrimination, and that legislative intent in this area has been to accord parallel or overlapping remedies against discrimination.