Acharya v. Microsoft Corporation, 354 P.3d 908 (2015)

The plaintiff was a longtime employee of Microsoft who worked mostly in Redmond, Washington.? In 2008 she agreed to transfer to London to lead an international team.? The contract presented to her said its terms would be governed by Swiss law and interpreted in Swiss courts.? She brought sex and age discrimination suit against Microsoft in King County and Microsoft moved to dismiss under the forum selection clause and for forum non conveniens, which the court denied.? The Court of Appeals affirmed, declaring the forum selection clause invalid on public policy grounds.? The court distinguished the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Atlantic Marine Construction Co. v. United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, 134 S. Ct. 568 (2013) on the grounds that the Supreme Court?s conclusion rested largely on effecting justice by enforcing the terms of a contract between ?two corporations on equal footing.?? That reasoning, however, carries little persuasive force in the employment contract context where the parties are not two corporations, but an individual and a powerful corporation (or its subsidiary).? The court recognized Washington?s strong public policy against employment discrimination and the well-established rule that the protections of the WLAD are ?nonnegotiable and cannot be waived in contract.?? Because those protections were unavailable under the contracts forum, the agreement was not enforceable.? Blythe Chandler and Jeffrey Needle wrote a motion to publish for WELA, which was granted.

View Court?s Opinion: Acharya v. Microsoft Corp.