DoorDash’s arbitration clause in independent contractor agreement upheld

By Dawn Geske | May 16, 2018

NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit has upheld a finding from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas for arbitration between an employee and a food delivery service.

Plaintiff Dewey Edwards filed his appeal to the court in reference to a suit he filed against his employer DoorDash. Edwards, a "dasher" for the company, claimed it was in violation of Fair Labor Standards Act. He also filed for class action conditional certification for others similarly situated, which was not acknowledged by the District Court and was part of his argument in the appeals filing.

As an independent contractor of DoorDash, Edwards signed an agreement that outlined that “arbitration will be the exclusive means of resolving any disputes between Contractor and Company,” according to the court opinion written by Judge Leslie H. Southwick.

In the initial suit, the District Court moved that arbitration should be upheld according to the contract. The 5th Circuit affirmed the lower court’s decision regardless of Edwards’ arguments that the District Court erred in deciding class member certification and in enforcing the arbitration agreement, according to the court opinion.

Edwards argued in his appeal that the independent contractor agreement (ICA) with DoorDash was “illusory” because the company never signed the contract. He also claimed he never received a personal copy of the contract and claimed that DoorDash changed the contract without proper notice to its contractors.

The appeals court agreed with the District Court that the agreement between the two parties was still enforceable regardless of the arguments Edwards made.

According to the court opinion, “Edwards's unconscionability arguments target the ICA as a whole and the arbitration agreement, but he fails to challenge the delegation clause. Therefore, we treat the delegation clause as valid. Edward’s remaining arguments regarding the validity of the arbitration agreement or the ICA as a whole should be addressed by the arbitrator.”

Southwick affirmed the decision, which also went before Judges Jacques Wiener Jr. and Jennifer Walker Elrod. 

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