Judge: Former Kat Von D store manager doesn’t have to arbitrate lawsuit claims

A wrongful termination case brought by the ex- manager of Kat Von D’s former High Voltage Tattoo store in West Hollywood will head to court.

After hearing arguments, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kevin Brazile said Thursday he will not require the plaintiff to arbitrate her claims that she was wrongfully fired in 2020 for expressing concerns about her boss’ alleged disregard for coronavirus mandates and health concerns, assuring the case will be heard by a jury.

Brazile finalized a tentative ruling he issued Wednesday denying the tattoo artist’s bid to force plaintiff Stephanie Davidson’s case into arbitration.

Davidson says that while she did sign an agreement to arbitrate any work disputes with Von D art gallery Wonderland Inc. in 2013 or 2014, that company was later dissolved after a 2014 fire and she did not sign an arbitration agreement when she returned to work for Von D at her West Hollywood tattoo shop, High Voltage Tattoo, in 2017.

The judge noted that distinction in his ruling.

“While the agreement states that it encompasses disputes as to plaintiff’s termination, that is not the same as stating that the agreement encompasses disputes relating to subsequent employment,” the judge wrote.

Because the arbitration agreement does not apply to Davidson’s employment with High Voltage Tattoo, the motion to compel arbitration must be denied, the judge further wrote.

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