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Court Upholds the High Bar for Plaintiffs Seeking to Avoid Arbitration Agreements

Payne v. Savannah College of Art and Design, Inc.

By Rachel Shumaker Bragg

The Eleventh Circuit considered a fired employee’s claims that an arbitration agreement he entered into with his former employer was unenforceable due to unconscionability and waiver. Affirming the lower court’s finding that the agreement was not unconscionable and that the employer had not waived its ability to arbitrate, the appellate court ordered the ex-employee’s dispute to be submitted to arbitration. In doing so, the Eleventh Circuit reaffirmed that individuals seeking to avoid arbitration agreements must clear a high bar.

The ruling reemphasized that proving unconscionability—whether procedural or substantive—is a difficult standard to achieve, and plaintiffs seeking to avoid arbitration agreements on unconscionability grounds will struggle to meet that standard without clear proof that the agreement subjects them to extremely inequitable results. 

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