Discrimination case goes to court despite employment contract

A doctor signed an employment agreement saying she would resolve any disputes by going to arbitration rather than suing in court. But in spite of this, she can file a sex discrimination lawsuit, says the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

The doctor, who worked at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, signed the contract when she was hired. In the contract, she promised that she would arbitrate any dispute “arising out of or in connection with this agreement.”

However, the court said that the contract only required the doctor to arbitrate disputes about the meaning or terms of the agreement. It didn’t preclude the doctor from suing for sex discrimination, which wasn’t covered in the agreement.

Of course, if the contract had specifically said that the doctor had to arbitrate discrimination claims, the result would presumably have been different.