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Court of Appeal Reverses Discrimination Award Against Larry Flynt Publications

In 2000 Elizabeth Raymond was hired as an executive assistant by Larry Flynt Publications Inc. (L.F.P.). Raymond signed an agreement to the terms of her employment as outlined in the L.F.P. employee handbook. That handbook contained a provision in which Raymond agreed that any dispute for sexual discrimination or harassment would be submitted for arbitration.

Flyntpublications.jpgWhen Raymond was fired in 2002, she filed suit alleging sexual harassment in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act. L.F.P. filed a motion to compel arbitration, which was granted.

The arbitrator found L.F.P. liable for creating/maintaining a hostile work environment and awarded Raymond $175,000 in compensatory damages and punitive damages of $500,000 against Larry Flynt and $250,000 against L.F.P.

The arbitration agreement signed by Raymond also contained the following judicial review clause: “Any party may apply to a court of competent jurisdiction for entry of judgment on the arbitration award. The court shall review the arbitration award, including the ruling and findings of fact, and shall determine whether they are supported by competent evidence and by a proper application of law to the facts. If the court finds that the award is properly supported by the facts and law, then it shall enter judgment on the award; if the court finds that the award is not supported by the facts or the law, then the court may enter a different judgment (if such is compelled by the uncontradicted evidence) or may direct the parties to return to arbitration for further proceedings consistent with the order of the court.”

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kenneth R. Freeman’s found the “Judicial Review” clause unenforceable and upheld the $925,000 award in favor of Elizabeth Raymond. Larry Flynt and L.F.P appealed.

The Court of Appeal ruled yesterday in favor of Judicial Review, reversed Judge Freeman’s ruling and remanded the case for consideration of the Flynt defendants’ legal challenges to the award.

The Court of Appeal’s opinion may be found HERE.

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