Semprini v. Wedbush Secs. Inc., 101 Cal. App. 5th 518 (2024)

Joseph Semprini originally filed a lawsuit against his employer in 2015, which included individual claims, class action claims and a cause of action under the California Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (“PAGA”).  Soon after this, Semprini and the employer entered into a stipulation to arbitrate plaintiff’s personal claims but have his class and PAGA claims proceed in court.  The class was certified in 2017 and trial was scheduled to begin in October 2023.  However, five months before trial, the employer attempted to compel the non-representative PAGA claims to arbitration, relying on the Supreme Court’s decision in Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana, 596 U.S. 639 (2022) and the fact that class members who still worked for the employer signed new arbitration agreements in September and October 2022.  The trial court denied the employer’s motion, finding it had waived its right to compel arbitration by entering into the 2015 stipulation.

The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s decision to deny the motion to compel arbitration but on a different basis as “a subsequent change in the law may constitute good cause for failure to assert a right to arbitrate earlier.”  The appellate court held that even if Viking River or the 2022 arbitration agreements gave the employer a new right to move to compel certain claims to arbitration, the employer waited too long to make its motion, particularly in light of the looming trial date.  “It is well established that a four to six month delay in enforcing the right to arbitrate may result in a finding of waiver if the party acted inconsistently with the intent to arbitrate during that window.”  See also Reynosa v. Superior Court, 2024 WL 1984884 (Cal. Ct. App. 2024) (yet another case holding that an employer waived its right to compel arbitration by failing to timely pay arbitration fees).

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Photo of Tony Oncidi Tony Oncidi

Anthony J. Oncidi is the co-chair of the Labor & Employment Law Department and heads the West Coast Labor & Employment group in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including…

Anthony J. Oncidi is the co-chair of the Labor & Employment Law Department and heads the West Coast Labor & Employment group in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including litigation and preventive counseling, wage and hour matters, including class actions, wrongful termination, employee discipline, Title VII and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, executive employment contract disputes, sexual harassment training and investigations, workplace violence, drug testing and privacy issues, Sarbanes-Oxley claims and employee raiding and trade secret protection. A substantial portion of Tony’s practice involves the defense of employers in large class actions, employment discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination litigation in state and federal court as well as arbitration proceedings, including FINRA matters.

Tony is recognized as a leading lawyer by such highly respected publications and organizations as the Los Angeles Daily JournalThe Hollywood Reporter, and Chambers USA, which gives him the highest possible rating (“Band 1”) for Labor & Employment.  According to Chambers USA, clients say Tony is “brilliant at what he does… He is even keeled, has a high emotional IQ, is a great legal writer and orator, and never gives up.” Other clients report:  “Tony has an outstanding reputation” and he is “smart, cost effective and appropriately aggressive.” Tony is hailed as “outstanding,” particularly for his “ability to merge top-shelf lawyerly advice with pragmatic business acumen.” He is highly respected in the industry, with other commentators lauding him as a “phenomenal strategist” and “one of the top employment litigators in the country.”

“Tony is the author of the treatise titled Employment Discrimination Depositions (Juris Pub’g 2020;, co-author of Proskauer on Privacy (PLI 2020), and, since 1990, has been a regular columnist for the official publication of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the State Bar of California and the Los Angeles Daily Journal.

Tony has been a featured guest on Fox 11 News and CBS News in Los Angeles. He has been interviewed and quoted by leading national media outlets such as The National Law JournalBloomberg News, The New York Times, and Newsweek and Time magazines. Tony is a frequent speaker on employment law topics for large and small groups of employers and their counsel, including the Society for Human Resource Management (“SHRM”), PIHRA, the National CLE Conference, National Business Institute, the Employment Round Table of Southern California (Board Member), the Council on Education in Management, the Institute for Corporate Counsel, the State Bar of California, the California Continuing Education of the Bar Program and the Los Angeles and Beverly Hills Bar Associations. He has testified as an expert witness regarding wage and hour issues as well as the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and has served as a faculty member of the National Employment Law Institute. He has served as an arbitrator in an employment discrimination matter.

Tony is an appointed Hearing Examiner for the Los Angeles Police Commission Board of Rights and has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law and a guest lecturer at USC Law School and a guest lecturer at UCLA Law School.