United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
C. Mullen United States District Judge.
MATTER is before the Court upon the Defendants'
Motion to Dismiss or in the Alternative, to Stay This Action
and Compel Arbitration. (Doc. No. 9). Plaintiffs have filed a
response memorandum and defendants have filed a reply
memorandum. This matter is now ripe for disposition.
an off-price retailer of brand-name and designer apparel,
accessories, footwear and home goods. Ross hired Plaintiff as
a Supervisor at its Rock Hill Distribution Center Operations,
2nd Shift on October 6, 2014. On December 18, 2014, Plaintiff
signed a Dispute Resolution Agreement (“DRA”)
with Ross. The DRA includes the following language:
This Agreement sets forth the procedures that you and Ross
Stores, Inc. (“Ross”) mutually agree must be used
to resolve any and all “Covered Disputes” arising
out of or related to your employment with Ross or its
termination. Covered Disputes will be resolved by final and
binding arbitration and not by a court or jury.
For the purposes of this Agreement Covered Disputes include
any and all disputes both between you and Ross and between
you and any other Ross Associate, agent or employee of Ross,
arising out of or related to your employment with or
separation of employment from Ross regardless of who
initiates the claim. Covered Disputes include, but are not
limited to, disputes related to the use of trade secrets,
unfair competition, compensation, termination, retaliation,
whistleblower claims, workers' compensation retaliation
claims, harassment, discrimination and claims based on the
Civil Rights Act of 1964, the American with Disabilities Act,
the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Family Medical
Leave Act, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, Fair
Labor Standards Act and all similar state statutes and all
related common law claims.
No. 10 at 2-3. On or about June 25, 2015, Plaintiff resigned
from her employment with Ross. Plaintiff filed a Complaint in
the United States District Court for the Western District of
North Carolina on November 1, 2016. In her Complaint,
Plaintiff alleges that she was harassed on the basis of her
gender in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964, and she raises violations of the common law.
receiving notice of the filing of this lawsuit, Defense
counsel advised Plaintiff's counsel that Plaintiff had
entered into the DRA with Ross and provided Plaintiff's
counsel with a copy of the same. In this motion, Defendants
ask this Court to dismiss or stay this case and Plaintiff be
compelled to pursue her claims in accordance with the DRA and
Federal Arbitration Act (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, or the refusal to perform the whole or any part
thereof, or an agreement in writing to submit to arbitration
an existing controversy arising out of such contract,
transaction or refusal, shall be valid, irrevocable and
enforceable, save upon such grounds as exist in law or in
equity for the revocation of any contract.
9 U.S.C. § 2 (2012)
initial matter, the Court notes “North Carolina has a
strong public policy favoring arbitration.” Raper
v. Oliver House, LLC, 637 S.E.2d 551, 554 ( N.C. Ct.
App. 2006) (quoting Red Springs Presbyterian Church v.
Terminix Co., 458 S.E.2d 270, 273 ( N.C. Ct. App. 1995;
Tillman v. Commercial Credit Loans, Inc., 655 S.E.2d
362, 369 ( N.C. 2008)). And this preference has been widely
recognized in the employment context for both state and
federal law claims. See Circuit City Stores, Inc. v.
Adams, 532 U.S. 105, 121-23 (2001) (“We have been
clear in rejecting the supposition that the advantages of the
arbitration process somehow disappear when transferred to the
employment context”); Thomas v. The Right Choice
MWM, Inc., 2014 WL 1632946 (W.D. N.C. Apr. 23, 2014)
(compelling arbitration of Title VII, ADA and ADEA claims);
Mahmoud v. Carmax Auto Superstores, Inc., 2011 WL
32518 (W.D. N.C. Jan. 5, 2011) (Title VII and wrongful
termination in violation of North Carolina public policy
claims subject to compulsory arbitration).
compel arbitration, the court must conclude that: (1) a
dispute exists between the parties; (2) there is a valid,
written agreement to arbitrate that encompasses the dispute;
(3) the transaction relates to interstate commerce; and (4)
Plaintiff's refusal to arbitrate. See American Gen.
Life & Accident Ins. Co. v. Wood, 429 F.3d 83, 87
(4th Cir. 2005). The first and fourth elements are clearly
met as there is certainly a dispute between ...