Appealed from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Sept. 9, 2009)
Oral argument: Apr. 26, 2010
ARBITRATION, FEDERAL ARBITRATION ACT, ARBITRABILITY, UNCONSCIONABILITY, UNCONSCIONABLE
Respondent Antonio Jackson was an employee of Petitioner Rent-A-Center West, Inc. (“RAC”). Jackson sued RAC, alleging racial discrimination. Because Jackson had signed an arbitration clause as part of his employment contract, RAC asked the court to refer the case to arbitration. Jackson, however, argued the employment contract was unconscionable and therefore invalid. The arbitration clause contains a provision that only an arbitrator can decide validity. Jackson argues that a court must decide the validity of the arbitration clause before requiring arbitration. RAC argues that the parties agreed in the contract to submit this question to arbitration. The Ninth Circuit held that, when a party attacks the validity of an arbitration clause because of unconscionability, a court must decide its validity. The Supreme Court’s decision will influence how arbitration clauses will function in the future and the degree of court involvement in arbitration agreements.