Judge Grants Motion to Force Model's Suit Before Arbitrator


LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A judge today granted Guess Inc.'s motion to force arbitration of a model's lawsuit alleging company founder Paul Marciano sexually harassed her in the workplace, finding that the work agreements she signed were not unfairly slanted in favor of the clothier.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Steven J. Kleifield heard arguments Monday and then issued his ruling Thursday in plaintiff Jane Doe's case.

“The arbitration agreements are not substantively unconscionable,'' Kleifield wrote. “As Guess notes, the arbitration provision does not limit remedies or shorten statutes of limitations, and requires Guess to pay for all the costs unique to arbitration.''

The judge also agreed with Guess that the arbitration provision is “bilateral'' in that it applies both to claims Guess has against the model and those she has against the company.

“Finally, the arbitration provision does not eliminate (her) ... rights, including the right to discovery,'' the judge concluded.

Kleifield put the case on hold pending the completion of the arbitration and scheduled a post-arbitration status conference for Feb. 24.

The model alleges in her lawsuit filed Jan. 19 against Guess and Marciano that she was sexually assaulted by the 69-year-old fashion designer numerous times. The suit cites one such instance when he allegedly grabbed her breasts after a 2017 photo shoot.

In their court papers, lawyers for Guess and Marciano maintained all of Doe's agreements with the company since February 2019 had a clear provision requiring that disputes be resolved in arbitration rather than in the courts.

“There can be no claim the arbitration provision was hidden or secret since the documents are just 1/2 pages each with seven other terms,'' the defense lawyers argued in their court papers.

Lawyers for the plaintiff argued in their court papers that the work agreements were unfair to her because she did not know what arbitration meant upon signing them and that she did not intend to give up her right to have her day in court.

Marciano often told the plaintiff about Guess jobs he had coming up, offering career opportunities to keep her quiet, the suit states.

After she made a written sexual harassment complaint last September, Guess ceased allowing her to work there, according to the suit.

Photo: Getty Images

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