United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION REGARDING ARBITRATION
MICHAEL PUTNAM UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the court on a motion to dismiss and to
compel arbitration filed by the defendant, Alorica, Inc., on
February 20, 2018, supported by evidence. (Doc. 9). Defendant
sought and received permission to supplement the motion.
(Docs. 10, 11). Defendant filed a supplemental affidavit with
exhibits.(Doc. 12). After seeking and receiving an
extension of time, the plaintiff, Bernard Wilson, filed an
opposition to the motion to compel arbitration (doc. 20), and
the defendant filed a brief in reply (doc. 21). The parties
have consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned
magistrate judge. (Doc. 15).
Bernard Wilson filed a complaint seeking damages and
injunctive relief against his former employer, Alorica, Inc.,
asserting that Alorica deprived him of rights secured by the
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. §
12112(a) (“ADA”). The defendant filed a motion to
dismiss the action and to compel arbitration, asserting that
the plaintiff agreed to arbitrate any claims arising from or
relating to his employment. In support of its motion, the
defendant provided the affidavit of Susannah Lawler, Regional
Senior Human Resources Manager for Alorica, in which she
states that “[a]t the outset of his employment with
Alorica, and as a condition of his continued employment,
Wilson entered into a binding ‘Agreement to
Arbitrate.'” (Doc. 12, & 6). Attached to her
affidavit is the purported agreement, which states in
In the interest of gaining the benefits of a speedy and
impartial dispute-resolution procedure for any disputes which
may arise between us concerning Your employment by the
Company, You and the Company desire to submit any such
disputes to binding arbitration as described below.
NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the mutual promises and
undertakings contained herein, the parties agree as follows:
disputes, claims, or controversies arising out of or relating
to your employment by the Company, the termination of your
employment by the Company, and/or this Offer Letter, and any
claims or disputes as to the scope and enforceability of this
arbitration agreement, shall be resolved exclusively by final
and binding arbitration. ...
(Doc. 12, p. 7).
asserts that “on October 2, 2015, Wilson, using his
unique login ID and password, logged into Alorica's
Employment Information System (“EIS”)”; she
further states that Wilson “electronically acknowledged
its terms by clicking on a button at the bottom of the
document.” (Doc. 12, p. 4, & 7). Lawler asserts
that such electronic acknowledgment could only be performed
by a person using Wilson's unique login ID and password.
A copy of the internal record of Alorica that manifests the
acknowledgment is attached to her affidavit, and reflects
that the acknowledgment occurred at 8:41 a.m. on October 2,
2015. (Doc. 12, p. 10). Wilson has responded that he does not
recall receiving or signing the agreement at issue and
further argues that the records reflect that his
acknowledgment was obtained less than one-tenth of one second
after he opened the document. He asserts that, because he
could not have spent more than one-tenth of one second
looking at the document, he could not have reviewed, read, or
agreed to the terms. (Docs. 20, 20-1). Plaintiff further
argues that the agreement was not signed and that, even if he
“reviewed” the document, he did not agree to its
terms. Finally, Wilson asserts that the language of the
arbitration provision at issue is not broad enough to cover
the statutory claims asserted in the complaint.
to the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”), 9 U.S.C.
§§ 1 et seq. (1988), a party to a written
agreement involving interstate commerce and containing an
arbitration clause has a right to petition a district court
to issue an order compelling arbitration. In Dunn
Construction Co. v. Sugar Beach Condominium Assoc., the
district court asserted that its “ultimate objective in
reviewing a motion to compel arbitration is to ascertain if
an arbitrable dispute exists between individuals or entities
who may be compelled to arbitrate. If arbitration is
appropriate, it then is the arbitrator's responsibility
to resolve the merits of the parties' contentions.”
760 F.Supp. 1479, 1482 (S.D. Ala. 1991).
is a strong national policy favoring arbitration of disputes.
Southland Corp. v. Keating, 465 U.S. 1, 10, 104
S.Ct. 852, 79 L.Ed.2d 1 (1984) (finding that “all
doubts concerning the arbitrability of claims should be
resolved in favor of arbitration”); see also Moses
H. Cone Mem'l Hosp. v. Mercury Constr. Corp., 460
U.S. 1, 24, 103 S.Ct. 927, 74 L.Ed.2d 765 (1983). The FAA
provides, “[a] written provision in . . . a contract
evidencing a transaction involving commerce to settle by
arbitration a controversy thereafter arising out of such
contract or transaction . . . 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. Further, the Supreme Court has stated that the
“primary purpose [of the FAA is to ensure that] private
agreements to arbitrate are enforced according to their
terms.” Volt Info. Sciences, Inc. v. Board of
Trustees of Leland Stanford Jr. Univ., 489 U.S. 468,
479, 109 S.Ct. 1243, 103 L.Ed.2d 488 (1989). The FAA was
intended to “reverse the longstanding judicial
hostility to arbitration agreements that had existed at
English common law and had been adopted by American courts,
and to place arbitration agreements upon the same footing as
other contracts.” Jenkins v. First America Cash
Advance of Ga., LLC, 400 F.3d 868, 874 (11th Cir. 2005)
(quoting Gilmer v. Interstate/Johnson Lane Corp.,
500 U.S. 20, 24, 11 S.Ct. 1647, 1651, 114 L.Ed.2d 26 (1991)).
The issues presented in the instant motion to compel
arbitration are whether Wilson agreed to arbitrate his
employment claims, and, if he did, whether the agreement
encompasses his federal statutory rights provided under the
Agreement to Arbitrate
plaintiff first asserts that there was no binding contract or
agreement because the arbitration provision was not signed or
dated. Under the FAA, an agreement to arbitrate must be
“a written provision.” 9 U.S.C. § 2.
However, there is no requirement that the agreement be signed
by the parties. See Caley v. Gulfstream Aerospace
Corp., 428 F.3d 1359, 1368-69 (11th Cir. 2005), and
cases cited therein. Because the FAA does not impose any
requirement that the agreement be signed, the requirements
for enforceability are determined by the applicable state law
governing contracts. The first issue, then, is whether the act
of clicking a button on a computer to
“acknowledge” an electronically-provided
agreement can constitute an agreement to enter into a
contract under Alabama law.
threshold matter, it appears to be undisputed that Alabama
adopted the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act in 2001.
See Alabama Code § 8-1A-1 et ...