A delivery driver has waived his opportunity to respond to a petition for certiorari filed by the online food ordering platform and delivery service DoorDash in a case concerning whether two California courts correctly exempted the driver from arbitration. DoorDash Inc. argues that the nation’s high court should take the case because the California judiciary has endorsed “an unwritten exception” to the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) irreconcilable with Supreme Court jurisprudence.
The case originated when the driver sued DoorDash in April 2019 for violations of a California labor law, the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA). Reportedly, PAGA cases often require employers to pay millions of dollars in penalties “for even trivial legal violations” due to provisions therein exposing them to liability for every violation of certain wage-and-hour laws.
The trial court refused to compel arbitration over DoorDash’s protests, and a California appellate court agreed. DoorDash then sought review in the California Supreme Court, arguing in its petition that United States Supreme Court precedent trumps the conflicting California rule set forth in Iskanian v. CLS Transportation Los Angeles LLC. The state high court denied DoorDash’s petition for review on Mar. 10, 2021.
DoorDash’s August petition encourages the Supreme Court of the United States to take up the case on several bases, including the aforementioned legal conflict. In addition, it argues that the case presents a good vehicle to assess the California rule.
In this regard, the petitioner notes that the California Supreme Court has denied review on this precise issue at least six times in the last twelve months despite its duty to reconsider controversial precedent. Furthermore, DoorDash argues that the Supreme Court, in step with its past proactivity, should not express reticence to “intervene when states so openly defy the FAA and when the stakes are as high as they are here.”
Finally, the petitioner asserts that whether the FAA carves out PAGA claims is an important and recurring issue. In support of this contention, DoorDash points to a statistic revealing that PAGA cases have increased from 759 in 2005 to more than 6,000 in 2017.