The Limits of “Relating To”

For all my dwelling on relating to, I haven’t considered at what point something might be too remote to a given circumstance to be related to it.

That, of course, is a fact-driven issue that isn’t susceptible to generalization. But it can be useful to consider examples, and Vickie Pynchon provides one in this post on her Settle It Now Negotiation Blog. It discusses the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ refusal to apply an arbitration provision to a sexual assault claim by a Halliburton employee. I’ll let you get the details from Vickie’s post, but here’s the essence:

We do not hold that, as a matter of law, sexual-assault allegations can never “relate to” someone’s employment. For this action, however, Jones’ allegations do not “touch matters” related to her employment, let alone have a “significant relationship” to her employment contract.

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.

2 thoughts on “The Limits of “Relating To””

  1. “Relates to” is the key phrase in ERISA’s pre-emption clause. Because most federal judges have had to rule on an ERISA pre-emption issue somewhere along the way, some of them may be influenced by the well-developed body of law in that area when they are asked to construe the phrase “relates to” in a contract.

    Just a thought.


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