Law Offices of John C. Lane
New Jersey Wage and Hour case must proceed in Texas state court: Third Circuit
Ina Collins is a Mary Kay beauty consultant who works in New Jersey. She sued Mary Kay, Inc., in New Jersey federal court alleging that she and others in her class were misclassified as independent contractors rather than as employees, in violation of the New Jersey Wage and Hour Law. The Court of Appeals, affirming the district court’s dismissal on forum non conveniens grounds, ruled that this New Jersey statutory claim must be tried in Texas state court. But why?
The consultants’ agreements with Mary Kay contained a choice-of-law provision calling for the Agreement to be governed by Texas law “as to all matters,” and a forum selection clause requiring that any dispute “concerning any matter relating to this Agreement” must be submitted to the state courts of Texas in Dallas County.
The Court first determined that a New Jersey court hearing the matter would allow application of Texas contract law to interpret the breadth of the forum selection clause. Next, the Court determined that under Texas law, the forum selection clause is broad enough to encompass Ina’s New Jersey Wage and Hour Law claim, relying in part on number of well-known United States Supreme Court admiralty law decisions governing such clauses. And thus, ruled the Court of Appeals, a New Jersey Wage and Hour Law worker-misclassification case will proceed in a Texas state court, in Dallas.
© November, 2017, Law Offices of John C. Lane