Ninth Circuit Upholds Arbitral Award Finding FAA Rejects Judicial Review of Whether Arbitrator’s Factual Findings “are Supported by Record Evidence” | Carlton Fields

Plaintiff Annette Serna appealed an order of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Serna had brought wrongful termination and related claims against Northrop, including under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), in the California Superior Court, Los Angeles County. Northrop referred the case to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California and then filed for arbitration pursuant to Northrop’s 2010 Arbitration Policy, which explicitly covered “future” claims between Serna and Northrop. The District Court imposed arbitration and stayed the action pending arbitration. The arbitrator dismissed Serna’s claims under the FEHA, finding that Serna was not a qualified person under the law. Subsequently, the district court denied Serna’s motion to overturn the arbitrator’s decision. The Ninth Circuit confirmed.

The Ninth Circuit found that the District Court did not err in imposing arbitration, since the 2010 policy expressly stated that “any claim, controversy or dispute, past, present or future between Serna and Northrop would be subject to binding arbitration. The court rejected Serna’s argument that it was no longer bound by the 2010 policy because it had been “superseded” by an updated policy in 2013, finding that nothing in the 2010 policy said a revised policy would void Serna’s 2010 agreement to arbitrate all claims. , including future claims arising from his employment with Northrop. The Ninth Circuit also found that the District Court did not err when it denied Serna’s request to overturn the arbitrator’s award on the basis that Serna was not a qualified person under of the FEHA, finding that the factual findings of the arbitrator on this issue fell outside the scope of judicial competence. FAA authorized examination. Finally, the court found that the arbitrator had not shown a “manifest disregard for the law”, concluding that the arbitrator had in fact identified the relevant legal standards and applied them, and noted that ” because he did, we cannot question- guess his interpretation or application of the law.

Serna v Northrop Grumman Systems Corp.No. 21-55238 (9th Cir. July 12, 2022).