The Second Department determined the plaintiffs in this putative class action alleging wage-underpayment in violation of Labor Law article 6 could not be compelled to arbitrate. Plaintiffs were not parties to the contracts with defendants which compelled arbitration and did not seek to exploit the benefits of those contracts:
… [U]nder limited circumstances nonsignatories may be compelled to arbitrate” … . Under the direct benefits theory of estoppel, a nonsignatory may be compelled to arbitrate where the nonsignatory “knowingly exploits” the benefits of an agreement containing an arbitration clause, and receives benefits flowing directly from the agreement … . “The benefits must be direct, and the party seeking to compel arbitration must demonstrate that the party seeking to avoid arbitration relies on the terms of the agreement containing the arbitration provision in pursuing its claim” … . Where the benefits are merely “indirect,” a nonsignatory cannot be compelled to arbitrate a claim … . “A benefit is indirect where the nonsignatory exploits the contractual relation of the parties, but not the agreement itself” … .
Here, contrary to the defendants’ contention, the plaintiffs should not be compelled to arbitrate based upon the agreements. The record does not establish that the plaintiffs were even aware of the existence of the agreements or that they knowingly exploited the benefits of the agreements … . Arboleda v White Glove Enter. Corp., 2020 NY Slip Op 00098, Second Dept 1-8-20