In its recent decision in Owen v. Bristol Care Inc., the 8th Circuit ruled that mandatory arbitration agreements including class action waivers are enforceable in Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) cases. In doing so, the appeals court pointedly ignored a recent National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling that invalidated such waivers.
In 2009, Sharon Owen began working at Bristol Care, which operates residential care facilities for the elderly. When she was hired, Owen signed a mandatory arbitration agreement, which mandated that all legal claims—including those for violations of federal statutes such as the FLSA—would be resolved by binding arbitration.
In D.R. Horton, another FLSA case, the NLRB ruled that a company had violated Section 7 of the NLRA by requiring its employees to sign an arbitration agreement and class action waiver.