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California Brewery Worker Must Arbitrate Background Check Claims

July 6, 2020, 4:11 PM

California craft brewery Stone Brewing Co. successfully maneuvered a proposed class action challenging its employment applications and background checks into individual arbitration, after a ruling by a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

The employment application Jesse Dominguez submitted to Stone in 2015 contained a valid and binding arbitration agreement, Judge William Q. Hayes ruled July 2. The agreement was set forth in its own paragraph and Dominguez was required to initial the paragraph to signify that he read and agreed to its terms, Hayes said.

Dominguez argued the agreement was invalid, because his employment application was superseded by an offer letter that contained no arbitration requirement. Hayes disagreed, saying the offer letter was silent as to arbitration and didn’t override the arbitration language in the employment application.

Hayes also ruled that Dominguez must arbitrate his claims on an individual basis, rather than as a class representative. Because the arbitration agreement was silent on the question of class arbitration, Hayes said Dominguez is limited to pursuing his claims individually.

Dominguez’s lawsuit claims the background investigation form in Stone’s employment application improperly combined a background investigation disclosure and authorization into one document and failed to include required disclosures. He brought class claims under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and California consumer protection and business laws.

Stone is based in Southern California and is the country’s ninth-largest brewer of craft beer, according to its website.

Justice Law Corp. represented Dominguez. Andrews, Lagasse, Branch & Bell LLP represented Stone.

The case is Dominguez v. Stone Brewing Co., 2020 BL 248429, S.D. Cal., No. 3:20-cv-00251, 7/2/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jacklyn Wille in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at; Nicholas Datlowe at