Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Jane L. Johnson ruled on Friday that she was granting Estee Lauder-owned Aveda’s motion to compel arbitration of the claims of two of the three named plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit that alleges that Aveda illegally treats trainees as unpaid employees. The third named plaintiff did not sign an arbitration agreement.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of three former cosmetology students, who contend that Estee Lauder-owned Aveda treats its hair and beauty students as unpaid workers. The plaintiffs allege that they were not compensated for their work, despite providing full hair and beauty services to paying clients. The plaintiffs also allege that Aveda did not properly supervise its students working on the salon floor, in violation of state regulations. Because of the lack of supervision and the requirement that students provide full beauty treatments rather than just assistance, plaintiffs allege that Aveda treated its students as employees without pay. Theclass size contains potentially thousands of current and former students.
At the hearing, plaintiffs’ attorney stated that they have located a student with a claim under California’s Private Attorney General Act — a claim that is not subject to arbitration waiver under the California Supreme Court’s ruling last year in Iskanian v. CLS Transportation. PerIskanian, PAGA waivers in arbitration agreements are generally unenforceable (unlike class action waivers). The logic is that PAGA actions have the fundamental public purpose of enforcement action by the state government, with penalties that go largely to the state.