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Lurker v. Star-Lo Communications

July 28, 2009

JOHN LURKER, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
STAR-LO COMMUNICATIONS, INC., DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Morris County, Docket No. L-102-06.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted June 30, 2009

Before Judges Cuff and Fuentes.

Plaintiff John Lurker appeals from the order of the Law Division dismissing his cause of action against his former employer, defendant Star-Lo Communications, Inc. In this suit, plaintiff alleged age discrimination and retaliation under the Law Against Discrimination Act (LAD), N.J.S.A. 10:5-12, wrongful termination and breach of contract.

The trial court granted defendant's motion to dismiss plaintiff's complaint with prejudice, finding that plaintiff was bound to present these claims for adjudication under an alternative dispute resolution program that culminated in final and binding arbitration. Plaintiff now appeals, arguing that:

(1) the court erred in finding that plaintiff knowingly waived his right to sue in Superior Court; (2) defendant waived the right to compel arbitration by waiting until near the end of the discovery period to move to dismiss plaintiff's complaint; and (3) the contract containing the arbitration provision was rendered void by a subsequent collective bargaining agreement (CBA) entered into between defendant and the Union of which plaintiff is a member.

We reject these arguments and affirm substantially for the reasons expressed by Judge Dumont in his oral opinion delivered from the bench on April 13, 2007, incorporating by reference the factual findings made therein. We add the following brief comments.

Plaintiff's claim that he did not knowingly agree to submit this type of employment-related dispute to binding arbitration is not supported by the record. As a condition of employment, defendant required all employees to agree to submit employment-related disputes to a comprehensive alternative dispute resolution (ADR) program administered by Best Solutions Program. The record shows that on December 3, 2004, plaintiff signed an agreement to be bound to this ADR program, which included binding arbitration as a final step.

In contrast to the facts in Leodori v. Cigna Corp., 175 N.J. 293, 306 (2003), (where the Court refused to enforce an arbitration agreement that the employee had not signed), the record here shows that plaintiff both signed the arbitration agreement and received supplemental materials that explained, in plain English, what his rights and obligations were under the ADR program. We further note that the CBA entered into by defendant and plaintiff's Union, contains the same ADR program reflected in plaintiff's original contract.

Plaintiff's remaining arguments lack sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E).

Affirmed.

20090728

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