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FAA Exception Inapplicable Where Interstate Commerce Incidental to Employment (Web)

Hill v. Rent-A-Center, Inc.: Account manager who made deliveries of goods to out of state customers in his employer’s truck was not a worker in interstate commerce and therefore FAA did not exempt him from his mandatory arbitration provision.

FAA Exception Inapplicable Where Interstate Commerce Incidental to Employment

             On February 4th, 2005, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed a lower court’s order compelling arbitration of Lashan Hill’s employment race discrimination claims against Rent-A-Center.  Hill had signed an arbitration agreement, but argued that it could not be enforced under the FAA based on the statute’s exception for “contracts of employment of seamen, railroad employees, or any other class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce.” 9 U.S.C. §1.
            Judge Roney, writing for the panel, followed Supreme Court guidance in reading the exception narrowly to apply only where the employee is a “transportation industry worker.” Hill v. Rent-A-Center, 2005 WL 268269, at *1 (citing Circuit City v. Adams, 532 U.S. 105 (2001).
            Hill, an account manager for Rent-A-Center, also delivered goods to out of state customers using a company truck.  However, the court found this interstate activity to be incidental, and compared Hill’s position with “a pizza delivery person who delivered pizza across a state line to a customer in a neighboring town.”  Since the transportation was incidental to Hill’s employment, Roney ruled that he was not a “transportation worker” and therefore not covered by the FAA exception.  
            The decision can be found at 2005 WL 268269 (11th Cir. Feb. 4, 2005) and also at: