The Second Circuit has affirmed an order compelling a plaintiff-employee to arbitrate his employment related claims against Carnival Cruise Lines, despite the fact that the one page employment agreement that he signed did not contain an arbitration clause and did not mention Carnival.
The plaintiff sued Carnival in connection with injuries allegedly suffered while working on one of their ships, and Carnival moved to compel arbitration. The plaintiff argued that he should not be required to arbitrate his claims because his employment contract did not contain an arbitration clause or expressly incorporate any other document, and Carnival was not a party to or even mentioned in that agreement. The Court disagreed.
First, the Court noted that incorporation by reference was a matter of law and thus for the court to decide. Second, it found that the language – stating that the “herein terms and conditions in accordance with POEA Governing Board Resolution No. 09 and Memorandum Circular No. 10 … shall be strictly and faithfully observed,” was sufficient to incorporate those documents, which contained an arbitration clause. Third, the Court found that it did not matter that the plaintiff was unaware of the arbitration clause, as he was bound by the terms of his contract and the incorporated documents, regardless of whether he had actually read them. Finally, the court held that the company with which the plaintiff had entered into a contract was acting as an agent for Carnival, and that Carnival had the power to enforce an arbitration agreement made by its agent.