United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
OWEN BOWDRE, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the court on Defendants' “Motion
to Dismiss, or, Alternatively to Stay, and to Compel
Arbitration.” (Doc. 6). Plaintiff Roy Hall sued
Defendants CVS Corporation; CVS Pharmacy, LLC; Mike Dramer;
and Cody Berguson, alleging claims under the Age
Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, Alabama Age
Discrimination in Employment Act, Civil Rights Acts of 1964,
Civil Rights Act of 1866, Consolidated Omnibus Budget
Reconciliation Act, and laws of the State of Alabama. (Doc.
1). CVS contends that an arbitration agreement requires
Plaintiff Hall's claims to be addressed through
arbitration, while Mr. Hall contends no such agreement
exists. For the reasons discussed in this Memorandum Opinion,
the court FINDS that a genuine dispute of material fact
exists regarding the formation of the arbitration agreement,
which must be determined by a trial. Therefore, the court
will DENY CVS's motion; the parties will
proceed to trial on the limited question of whether Mr. Hall
opted out of the arbitration agreement.
Mr. Hall's Position and Termination
Roy Hall is an African American male, over the age of 40, who
worked as a CVS pharmacist for more than 20 years at its
Eastlake and Roebuck, Alabama, locations before CVS
terminated his employment in December 2015. Defendant Dramer
was a CVS district manager and Defendant Berguson was a CVS
Pharmacy supervisor during the time relevant to this case.
Hall worked the night shift at the Roebuck CVS location for
19 years. In 2014, he made at least two requests to transfer
to the day shift, which CVS denied. CVS also denied Mr. Hall
salary increases at each of his performance reviews for six
straight years, explaining that his store's
numbers/metrics were not meeting expectations. Sometime
around February 14, 2014, Mr. Hall took his complaints
further up the chain to Mr. Colquitt, a CVS Pharmacy
supervisor, and then to the Human Resources Manager at
eventually transferred Mr. Hall to the Eastlake location in
July 2014 and assigned him to the day shift. There, Mr. Hall
received his first pay increase in 6 years. But, Mr. Hall
alleges that Mr. Berguson cut the number of labor hours for
the Eastlake location and changed the pharmacy metrics to
make it more difficult for Mr. Hall to meet his goals because
he was angry that Mr. Hall complained to corporate
headquarters. As a result, Mr. Hall had less pharmacy tech
support and he had to perform multiple duties that are not
generally performed by CVS pharmacists, such as operating the
cash register, stocking, and “numerous other sales and
administrative duties.” (Doc. 1 at 9).
October, 2015, Mr. Hall unintentionally
“mis-filled” a prescription by providing a
customer with the wrong dosage of medication. The customer
discovered the error, returned the medication the same day,
and Mr. Hall noted the error on the pharmacy log. This was
Mr. Hall's first “mis-fill” in his career
Berguson and District Manager Yeatman investigated the
incident according to CVS policy. CVS never suspended Mr.
Hall for the mis-fill and he continued working at the
Eastlake location up until December 4, 2015. On that day,
Berguson and Yeatman informed Mr. Hall that CVS was
terminating his employment at the end of his shift. The only
explanation Mr. Hall received was that CVS policy required
the termination and that the decision was over Berguson's
and Yeatman's heads. (Id. at 10).
The Arbitration Agreement and Opt-out Provision
October 2014, CVS introduced an arbitration policy under
which CVS and its participating employees waive their right
to pursue employment-related claims in court. (Doc. 7 at 3).
On October 5, 2014, CVS invited its employees to participate
in a training course, Arbitration of Workplace Legal
Disputes. The course explained the employee's rights
as to arbitration, the manner in which they accept the
policy's terms, and how they may opt out of the policy.
(Id. at 5).
policy provided that employees would accept the policy by
continuing their employment with CVS Health after becoming
aware of the policy, but allowed employees to opt out within
30 days of first viewing or receiving the policy. (Doc. 6-1).
To opt out, the policy explained that an employee
must mail a written, signed and dated letter stating clearly
that he or she wishes to opt out of the CVS Health
Arbitration of Workplace Legal disputes Policy. The letter
must be mailed to [ CVS's P.O. Box in Rhode Island]. In
order to be effective, the colleague's opt out notice
must be postmarked no later than 30 days after the colleague
first views or receives the policy. Please Note, sending in a
timely notice is the only way to opt out. A colleague cannot
opt out by refusing to complete training or attend meetings
about the policy.
(Doc. 6-1 at 27).
The policy also informed employees that it covers
any and all legal claims, disputes or controversies [between
CVS and an employee, including] disputes regarding . . .
harassment, discrimination, retaliation and termination
arising under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans
with Disabilities Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act,
Family Medical Leave Act, Fair Labor Standards Act . . . and