Vilches v. The Travelers Companies, Inc., 2011 WL 453304 (3d Cir., February 9, 2011) – The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that an arbitrator, not the court, must decide whether a revised arbitration agreement prohibiting class action arbitrations is enforceable. In this case, the plaintiffs agreed upon employment that all disputes would be resolved by arbitration, and that the employer could revise the arbitration policy at any time. The employer later revised the policy to prohibit arbitration of class or collective actions. The plaintiffs subsequently filed a class and collective action to recover unpaid wages and overtime, arguing that the revised policy did not bind them, and in any event was unconscionable. In keeping with prior authority in New Jersey, the court remanded the issue to the arbitrator, ruling that questions of contract interpretation aimed at determining whether a particular procedural mechanism is authorized by a given arbitration agreement are for the arbitrator to decide. The court did, however, address the unconscionability issue, finding that the revised provision was proper because it was not a contract of adhesion.
New Federal Law Extends Deadline for New Jersey’s Unemployed Workers to Qualify for Existing Tiers of Federal Unemployment Insurance Benefits
On April 15, 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Continuing Extension Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-157), which extends the filing date for unemployed New Jersey workers to qualify for benefits under the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation tiers to June 2, 2010. In addition, the new law extends the Federal Additional Compensation (FAC) program to June 2, 2010 and provides an additional federal weekly benefit of $25 to unemployment insurance claimants.
MSHA issued a 103(k) order to withdraw miners after a mine blast expelled a large rock, six feet in diameter weighing two tons. The rock left the mine site, rolled through a neighbor’s property and landed in a creek. The ejection of the rock was not intended, but the blast was planned and there was no injury to anyone on or off the mine property.
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