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August 05, 2014 Practice Points

Dodd-Frank Does Not Prevent Arbitration of Non-Whistleblower Claims

By Scott D. Simon

Dodd-Frank does not invalidate pre-dispute arbitration agreements in employment contracts except when they are applied to whistleblower claims. Santoro v. Accenture Federal Services, LLC, 748 F.3d 217 (4th Cir. 2014).

Santoro, a 66-year-old account lead for Accenture, was terminated and replaced with a younger employee. Santoro sued Accenture in the Eastern District of Virginia, asserting age discrimination. Santoro’s employment contract contained an arbitration clause that covered all disputes relating to Santoro’s employment, and Accenture moved to compel arbitration.

In opposing the motion, Santoro argued that the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010  invalidated all arbitration agreements by publicly traded companies that lack a carve-out for whistleblower claims, even if the plaintiff is not a whistleblower. The district court rejected Santoro’s argument and granted Accenture’s motion. Santoro appealed.

Keywords: litigation, alternative dispute resolution, ADR, Federal Arbitration Act, Dodd-Frank Act, Congressional intent, whistleblower claims

Scott D. Simon is with Goetz Fitzpatrick LLP in New York, New York.

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