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Signed Arbitration Agreement Prevents Jury Hearing In Sexual Battery Claims Filed By Former Panda Express Employee

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) -- A former Panda Express employee who said she was forced to strip to her underwear and hug another worker during a team-building exercise will not have her claims heard by a jury, but by an arbitrator instead.

Jennifer Spargifiore filed a sexual battery lawsuit against Panda Express on Feb. 26 regarding the alleged 2019 incident.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elaine Lu ruled on Tuesday that she will have to take her claims to an arbitrator instead of a jury because she was bound by the terms she signed in 2016 and 2018, agreeing to arbitrate disputes.

RELATED: Former Panda Express Employee Sues For Sexual Battery, Says She Was Forced To Remove Clothing During Team-Building Activity

Spargifiore said she wasn't aware of having signed any arbitration agreements with the company.

Panda Express told Spargifiore to attend the team-building seminar and made it clear that any promotion she may receive at the company depended upon it, the lawsuit said.

Spargifiore eventually resigned from Panda Express, and the restaurant's parent company Panda Restaurant Group, said it was conducting its own investigation into the allegations.

"_anda Restaurant Group takes these allegations very seriously and is conducting an investigation. We do not condone the kind of behavior described in the lawsuit, and it is deeply concerning to us," the statement read.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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