Judge Orders DoorDash to Face 5,000 Individual Arbitrations

In an 8-page order filed Monday, Judge William Alsup granted the motion to compel arbitration made by over 5,000 individual plaintiffs and denied motions to stay proceedings and seal the record filed by defendant DoorDash.

The case originated from a claim by the plaintiffs that DoorDash had misclassified their employment status. The plaintiffs attempted to arbitrate their claims individually under the arbitration agreements between Doordash and its workers; when DoorDash failed to pay the $12 million in administrative costs from conducting so many arbitrations, the plaintiffs moved to compel arbitration.

Judge Alsup found that “the agreements for these 5,010 petitioners are valid, cover the claims in suit, and require arbitration before the [American Arbitration Organization,]” while dismissing claims that plaintiff’s counsel did not have the authority to represent some plaintiffs. The judge did not compel arbitration for 869 of the plaintiffs who did not clearly have an agreement with DoorDash ; arbitration was compelled for the remainder.

The defendant’s motion to stay proceedings was based on the pending settlement in another case in San Fransisco County state court, Marciano v. DoorDash, in part due to concerns of overlap between the Marciano plaintiffs and the plaintiffs in the present case. The hearing on preliminary approval of the settlement in Marciano was vacated last week.

The judge attempted to ameliorate the defendant’s concerns about a given plaintiff “double-dipping” by attempting to win both class-action settlement relief and individual arbitration relief by warning plaintiff’s counsel Keller Lenkner that in that circumstance, “this order recommends the arbitrator impose on Keller Lenkner an order to fully reimburse DoorDash for all arbitration fees and attorney’s fees and expenses incurred by DoorDash in defending the matter twice.”

In summation, Judge Alsup wrote that “The employer here, DoorDash, faced with having to actually honor its side of the bargain, now blanches at the cost of the filing fees it agreed to pay in the arbitration clause….in irony upon irony, DoorDash now wishes to resort to a class-wide lawsuit, the very device it denied to the workers, to avoid its duty to arbitrate. This hypocrisy will not be blessed, at least by this order.”

The court gave the defendants 2 weeks to appeal the decision.