United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
F. MOORER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
action is assigned to the undersigned magistrate judge to
conduct all proceedings and order entry of judgment by
consent of all the parties pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(c). See Docs. 24-26. Pending before the Court is
the Defendants' Motion to Compel Arbitration and Stay the
Proceedings Pending Arbitration and brief in support (Docs.
19-20, filed 2/6/18). Plaintiff originally filed a response
in opposition (Doc. 29, filed 3/7/18). A few days later the
parties filed a Joint Stipulation to Refer the case to
Arbitration and Stay the Underlying Proceedings Pending
Arbitration (Doc. 30, filed 3/12/18). After a review of the
motion, response, and relevant law, the Court GRANTS the
Motion to Compel Arbitration (Doc. 19) and Stipulation (Doc.
Parties and Background
Tiffany Remington (“Remington” or
“Plaintiff”) filed this lawsuit on November 3,
2017 for alleged discrimination based on sex, race, and
retaliation by Shwinco Architectural Products, LLC
(“Shwinco”) and Steven Jerome Hamilton
(“Hamilton”). Plaintiff brings her causes of
action pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,
42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq. (hereinafter
“Title VII”) and 42 U.S.C. § 1981
(hereinafter “§ 1981”). Plaintiff also
asserts claims pursuant to this Court's supplemental
jurisdiction for invasion of privacy, assault and battery,
outrage, negligent/wanton training, supervision, and/or
retention. She seeks declaratory judgment, injunctive relief,
and other equitable remedies to include backpay,
reinstatement, compensatory damages, punitive damages, costs,
attorneys' fees, and expenses. See Doc. 1.
January 17, 2018, Defendants timely filed their Answer.
See Doc. 14. Shortly thereafter on February 6, 2018,
Defendants file a motion to compel arbitration and motion to
stay proceedings pending arbitration. See Docs.
19-20. Attached to the brief is Plaintiff's employment
application from December 17, 2013. At the end of the
application, there is a provision where Remington initialed
and signed which stated “This is to advise you that it
is the Company's policy to submit all employment-related
disputes that cannot be resolved informally to binding
arbitration. If you are offered a job with the Company, your
hiring is conditioned upon your agreement to submit any
employment-related disputes you may have with the Company to
arbitration. Upon a conditional offer of employment, you will
be provided with copies of the Company's arbitration
policy and agreement. If you choose not to agree to binding
arbitration, any offer of employment extended to you will be
withdraw.” See Doc. 21, Ex. A at p. 4.
Plaintiff opposed the motion to compel arbitration.
See Doc. 29. She asserts that Defendant failed to
carry its burden that a valid contract existed between
Plaintiff and Schwinco because they failed to submit a copy
of “the arbitration policy and agreement”
referenced in the employment application. Id.
Alternatively, Plaintiff requested limited discovery in order
to determine (1) if any such policy or agreement existed; (2)
whether plaintiff was ever provided said documents or the
opportunity to review them; and (3) whether any ostensible
arbitration policy or agreement are unconscionable or
unenforceable. Finally, Plaintiff states she cannot bear the
burden of any agreement which would require her to pay or
share fees and costs related to arbitration. Id.
March 12, 2018, the parties filed a joint stipulation to send
the case to arbitration and stay these proceedings pending
arbitration. See Doc. 30. The parties reached an
agreement to arbitrate all claims related to this matter.
“Defendant Schwinco has agreed to pay all fees
associated with arbitration including, but not limited to,
the filing fee, the arbitrator's fees, and administrative
costs. Defendant's agreement to pay any fees associated
with arbitration excludes Plaintiff's attorneys' fees
and expenses. The parties also stipulate to submit the case
to arbitration before the American Arbitration
Association.” Id. at p. 1.
Discussion and Analysis
Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. § 1, et seq.
controls cases where arbitration is at issue. Section 2 of
the Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA") provides in
A written provision in any . . . contract evidencing a
transaction involving commerce to settle by arbitration a
controversy thereafter arising out of such contract or
transaction, or the refusal to perform the whole or any part
thereof . . . shall be valid, irrevocable, and enforceable,
save upon such grounds as exist at law or in equity for the
revocation of any contract.
9 U.S.C. § 2. This reflects “both a liberal
federal policy favoring arbitration and the fundamental
principle that arbitration is a matter of contract.”
AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion, 563 U.S. 333,
131 S.Ct. 1740, 1745, 179 L.Ed.2d 742 (2011) (citations &
internal quotation marks omitted). 9 U.S.C. § 3 provides
for the stay of proceedings in federal district courts when
an issue in the proceedings is referable to arbitration. The
stay is mandatory, precluding the exercise of discretion by a
district court. See Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc. v.
Byrd, 470 U.S. 213, 218, 105 S.Ct. 1238, 84 L.Ed.2d 158
(1985); John B. Goodman Ltd. P'ship v. THF Const.,
Inc., 321 F.3d 1094, 1095 (11th Cir. 2003) (“Under
the FAA, 9 U.S.C. § 1 et seq., a district court
must grant a motion to compel arbitration if it is
satisfied that the parties actually agreed to arbitrate the
dispute.”) (emphasis added).
law establishes the enforceability of arbitration agreements,
while state law governs the interpretation and formation of
such agreements.” Employers Ins. of Wausau v.
Bright Metal Specialties, Inc., 251 F.3d 1316, 1322
(11th Cir. 2001) (citing Perry v. Thomas, 482 U.S.
483, 107 S.Ct. 2520, 96 L.Ed.2d 426 (1987)). Therefore, the
Court looks to Alabama law to determine whether an
enforceable arbitration agreement exists. Further, the claims
asserted by Plaintiff are subject to mandatory arbitration
where (1) a valid agreement to arbitrate exists, (2) the
claims fall within the scope of that agreement, and (3) the
underlying contract evidences a transaction involving
interstate commerce. See 9 U.S.C. § 2; King
v. Cintas Corp., 920 F.Supp.2d 1263, 1267 (N.D. Ala.
2013); Maddox v. USA Healthcare-Adams, LLC, 350
F.Supp.2d 968, 972-73 (M.D. Ala. 2004) (noting Title VII and
§ 1981 claims may be subject to mandatory arbitration).
on the evidence currently before the Court, the undersigned
finds that there is sufficient evidence to substantiate that
an agreement to arbitrate exists and that the claims fall
within the scope of the agreement. The documentation attached
to the Defendants' motion is an application for
employment and not the actual arbitration policy and
agreement. This alone would normally not be sufficient in
light of Plaintiff's affidavit in her response in
opposition. However, it is evidence that the company's
typical policy is to arbitrate. However, the joint
stipulation filed by the parties does constitute an
agreement between the parties to arbitrate these
matters. Thus, the Court need not further analyze
first two conditions and determines a valid agreement to
arbitrate eists and the claims fall within the scope of that
agreement. Thus, the Court turns to the final requirement -
the underlying contract evidence a transaction involving
interstate commerce. The Court finds that precondition is
also satisfied because Shwinco is in the business of
manufacturing and selling windows to customers in multiple
states and also materials are purchased across state lines.
See Doc. 20, Ex. B at ¶ 6-9. “[I]f an
organization engages in business across state lines, has any
portion of its assets generated as a result of any activity
across state lines, or engages in any business that may be
regulated by the Congress pursuant to powers granted in the
Commerce Clause, then FAA jurisdiction is the appropriate
mechanism for settling a dispute where a valid arbitration
agreement has been executed.” Maddox, 350
F.Supp.2d at 973-74.
on the above, the Court is satisfied that the parties have
agreed to arbitrate the matters and the prerequisites for
doing so have been satisfied. Therefore, the Court will refer
the case to ...