An unconscionable arbitration agreement

Sometimes a court will refuse to enforce an arbitration agreement because it's unconscionable.

Here we have a plaintiff who sued with a wage claim. He'd signed an arbitration agreement. The boss wanted the court to order arbitration, but the court said the arbitration agreement was unconscionable. Subcontracting Concepts v. De Melo (California Ct App 04/10/2019) [PDF]

Procedurally unconscionable — which has to do with how the contract was formed in the first place — because it was non-negotiable, the guy spoke hardly any English, it was given to him on a take-it-or-leave-it basis, and it said that the AAA rules applied but didn't say which rules, and he didn't get a copy.

Also substantively unconscionable — which has to do with exactly what's in that contract — because it provided for three arbitrators (which is going to be very expensive), and he's not allowed to recover punitive damages, or equitable relief, or attorney fees, or costs — even if he wins.

So — unconscionable. And the court refused to just carve out the bad stuff and save the rest. They threw the whole arbitration agreement out. So this man gets to stay in court.

Overreaching has consequences.