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Carnes v. At&T Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division

May 28, 2019

ROBERT WAYNE CARNES Plaintiff,
v.
AT&T, INC. and AT&T SERVICES, INC., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          ANNEMARIE CARNEY AXON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Robert Wayne Carnes filed this lawsuit, alleging that his former employer, Defendant AT&T Services, Inc. (“AT&T”), discriminated against him because of his age in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), as amended by the Older Worker's Benefit Protection Act (“OWBPA”).

         Currently before the court is AT&T's motion to compel arbitration and stay proceedings. (Doc. 10). Because Mr. Carnes's claims are subject to binding arbitration, the court GRANTS the motion.[1]

         I. BACKGROUND

         The court evaluates a motion to compel arbitration, using “a summary-judgment-like standard.” Bazemore v. Jefferson Capital Sys., LLC, 827 F.3d 1325, 1333 (11th Cir. 2016). The court examines the evidence presented to determine whether there is a genuine dispute of material fact concerning the formation of an arbitration agreement. Id. As a result, the court's description of the facts will incorporate evidence submitted to the court outside of the pleadings.

         Mr. Carnes was employed by AT&T from January 25, 1995 until AT&T terminated his employment on October 30, 2017. (Doc. 1 at ¶¶ 7, 15, 29). In late 2011 and early 2012, AT&T adopted and distributed to employees a Management Arbitration Agreement (“Agreement”), pursuant to which employees and the company would arbitrate covered disputes. (Doc. 11-4 at ¶ 4; see Doc. 11-1 at 8-11).

         The Agreement provides that “any dispute to which this Agreement applies will be decided by final and binding arbitration instead of court litigation.” (Doc. 11-1 at 8). The Agreement “is governed by the Federal Arbitration Act, ” and “applies to any claim that [employees] have against . . . any AT&T company. . . .” (Id.). Of relevance to this action, in addition to this general statement regarding how the Agreement applies, the Agreement states specifically that “covered claims include without limitation those arising out of or related to your employment relationship, . . . termination, . . . retaliation, discrimination or harassment and claims arising under the . . . Age Discrimination in Employment Act.” (Id. at 8-9).

         On December 1, 2011, AT&T sent an email to Mr. Carnes at his unique AT&T-provided email address, RC6701@us.att.com. (Doc. 11-2 at 4, ¶ 8; Doc. 11-2 at 7; Doc. 11-3 at ¶ 6). The subject heading of the email was titled “Action Required:

         Arbitration Agreement.” (Doc. 11-2 at 4, ¶ 8; Doc. 11-2 at 7). The email message stated, in relevant part:

AT&T has created an alternative process for resolving disputes between the company and employees. Under this process, employees and the company would use independent third-party arbitration rather than courts or juries to resolve legal disputes. Arbitration is more informal than a lawsuit in court and may be faster.
The decision on whether or not to participate is yours to make. To help you make your decision, it is very important for you to review the Management Arbitration Agreement linked to this email. It provides important information on the process and the types of disputes that are covered by the Agreement.
Again, the decision is entirely up to you. To give you time to consider your decision, the company has established a deadline of no later than 11:59 p.m. Central Standard Time on Monday, Feb. 6, 2012 to opt out - that is, decline participation in the arbitration process - using the instructions below.
If you do not opt out by the deadline, you are agreeing to the arbitration process as set forth in the Agreement. This means that you and AT&T are giving up the right to a court or ...

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