Ryze Claim Solutions LLC v. Superior Court, 2019 WL 1467947 (Cal. Ct. App. 2019)

Jerome Nedd was employed by Ryze Claim Solutions in El Cerrito, California for almost three years before his employment was terminated, resulting in his filing claims against Ryze for wrongful termination and violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) in Contra Costa County Superior Court. When Nedd was first employed, he executed an employment agreement with Ryze (an Indiana-based company), which contained a forum selection clause in which Nedd agreed that he would prosecute any claims he might have against Ryze in either Marion County or Hamilton County, Indiana or in federal court in the Southern District of Indiana. In response to Nedd’s complaint, Ryze filed a motion to stay or dismiss the action based on the Indiana forum selection clause in the agreement. The trial court denied Ryze’s motion, but the Court of Appeal issued a peremptory writ of mandate directing the trial court to grant Ryze’s motion. The Court of Appeal rejected Nedd’s argument that the public policy underlying FEHA favors a “wide choice of venues” on the ground that the relevant issue here involved forum (i.e., which state) rather than venue (i.e., which county within the state) selection. The Court also rejected Nedd’s reliance upon Labor Code § 925 (restricting non-California forum selection clauses) on the ground that the contract at issue in this case was entered into prior to the January 1, 2017 effective date of that statute.