Arbitration Clause Applies to Post-Employment Defamation

The alleged conduct of a prior employer after termination of the employee must be arbitrated pursuant to an arbitration agreement, according to the Fort Worth Court of Appeals. In Ensign Group, Inc., et al. v. Mammen, Cause No. 02-14-00317-CV (Tex. App.—Fort Worth May 14, 2015), Defendant terminated Plaintiff’s employment. When a prospective employer contacted Defendant for a reference for Plaintiff, Defendant allegedly stated that Plaintiff was “lazy” and was escorted out of the building by police. The prospective employer allegedly told Plaintiff that it would not offer her a position based on Defendant’s poor reference. Plaintiff sued Defendant for negligence, slander and tortious interference with prospective contract.

Defendant moved to compel arbitration of Plaintiff’s claims on the basis of an arbitration agreement the parties entered into while Plaintiff was still an employee of Defendant. The agreement called for all claims, “whether or not” the claims arose out of Plaintiff’s “employment, remuneration or termination,” to be arbitrated under the Federal Arbitration Act. The agreement also stated that it would survive termination of the Plaintiff’s employment.

The Fort Worth Court of Appeals held that the language “whether or not” created expansive coverage for the arbitration provision. Plaintiff’s claims “plainly arise from her employment, remuneration or termination and are therefore subject to arbitration…but even if they did not so arise, the claims would still be arbitrable.” As Plaintiff’s claims for post-termination comments the Defendant allegedly made to a prospective employer were covered by the arbitration agreement, the Court remanded the case to the trial court to compel arbitration.