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Thursday, July 11, 2024 | Back issues
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Ex-VP Must Arbitrate Bias Case With Al Jazeera

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Race and gender discrimination claims against Al Jazeera from one of its former senior vice presidents did not survive in Federal Court, but must be arbitrated.

Shannon High-Bassalik sued Al Jazeera and its interim CEO Ehab Al Shihabi in June, claiming the company discriminates against non-Middle Eastern and non-Arabic employees and against women, and fired her for those reasons.

But U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder granted Al Jazeera's motions to compel arbitration and dismiss High-Bassalik's claims for lack of personal jurisdiction.

High-Bassalik signed an arbitration agreement with Al Jazeera, Snyder ruled, so "the parties 'clearly and unmistakably' intended to leave the question of arbitrability to the resolution of an arbitrator," and she stayed proceedings pending the arbitrator's decision.

Snyder also found that High-Bassalik's claims could not be adjudicated in California.

Because Al Shihabi lives in Virginia, the case lacks general jurisdiction in California, and "the court could not find that plaintiff's claims against Al Shihabi 'arise out of or relate' to his California-related activities."

"All of the conduct in the complaint concerns plaintiff's allegations that she was subjected to discrimination in New York, and, at all times relevant to this action, both plaintiff and Al Shihabi worked out of Al Jazeera's corporate headquarters in New York," Snyder wrote on Nov. 2.

She added that "nothing in plaintiff's employment agreement can appropriately be construed as a consent by Al Shihabi to being sued in California."

Neither side's counsel responded to requests for comment Thursday afternoon.

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