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Dillard v. Dolgen Corp. LLC

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

November 9, 2017

DEMETRIUS D. DILLARD, SR., Plaintiff,
v.
DOLGEN CORP. LLC., et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          JOI ELIZABETH PEAKE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on Motions to Compel Arbitration and Dismiss or, in the alternative, to Stay Proceedings Pending Arbitration [Doc. #8, #12], filed by Defendants Shannon Richardson and Dolgencorp, LLC (“Dollar General”).[1]

         In this case, Plaintiff Demetrius Dillard Sr., proceeding pro se, brings claims alleging discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, as amended (ADEA), arising out of his prior employment at Dollar General. In the present Motions, Defendants contend that Plaintiff's claims are subject to arbitration pursuant to the terms of the Dollar General Employee Arbitration Agreement (“Arbitration Agreement”) that exists between Plaintiff and Defendant Dollar General.

         For the reasons that follow, the Court will recommend that Defendants' Motions to Compel Arbitration be granted.

         I. FACTS, CLAIMS, AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         In the Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he was hired on October 12, 2015 to work at a Dollar General Store located at 3109 Yanceyville Street in Greensboro, NC, but that he waited six weeks to be scheduled to work and then requested transfer to another location. On December 9, 2015, he was transferred to the nearby Dollar General Store located at 4017 Yanceyville Street and began working approximately 20 hours per week. He alleges that beginning February 1, 2016, a new manager began harassing him and making discriminating statements about his age. Plaintiff alleges that he complained to the store manager, Defendant Richardson, but it appeared that nothing was done. Plaintiff alleges that after he continued to complain, his schedule was reduced in retaliation and he was ultimately forced to resign.

         In connection with the instant Motions to Compel Arbitration, Defendants provided the Declaration of Lynne Pool, Supervisor of Dollar General's Human Resources Shared Services Department [Doc. #9-1]. Ms. Pool avers that Plaintiff accepted the Dollar General Employee Arbitration Agreement on October 12, 2015, as part of Plaintiff's new hire documents. (Id.) Ms. Pool explains that Dollar General uses an “Express Hiring system” that requires candidates to log in to the system using a unique identification number and password. (Id.) Ms. Pool further notes that once logged into the system, candidates are presented with new hire documents, including the Arbitration Agreement, and candidates have the option to electronically agree to the Arbitration Agreement or opt out of the Agreement. (Id.) Candidates are also advised that a failure to take action within 30 days is construed as the candidate's acceptance of the Arbitration Agreement. (Id.) Ms. Pool states that company records indicate that Plaintiff used his unique login information to access the Arbitration Agreement on October 12, 2015, that he agreed to the Arbitration Agreement, and that he affixed his electronic signature thereto. (Id.) Ms. Pool further indicates that Plaintiff took no further action within the 30 day period provided to opt out of the Arbitration Agreement. (Id.)

         Consistent with those statements, attached to Ms. Pool's declaration is a document entitled “Dollar General Employee Arbitration Agreement, ” dated October 12, 2015, which reflects Plaintiff's name, the last four digits of Plaintiff's social security number, and Plaintiff's initials certifying the contents of the document. (See Decl. of L. Pool, Ex. A [Doc. #9-2].)

         That document provides, in part:

Dollar General … has a process for resolving employment related legal disputes with employees that involves binding arbitration. This Dollar General Employee Arbitration Agreement (“Agreement”) describes that process and constitutes a mutually binding agreement between you and Dollar General, subject to opt out rights described at the end of this Agreement.
You agree that, with the exception of certain excluded claims described below, any legal claims or disputes that you may have against Dollar General, its parent and subsidiary corporations, employees, officers and directors arising out of your employment with Dollar General or termination of employment with Dollar General (“Covered Claim” or “Covered Claims”) will be addressed in the manner described in this Agreement. You also understand that any Covered Claims that Dollar General may have against you related to your employment will be addressed in the manner described in this Agreement. . . . .
The procedures in this Agreement will be the exclusive means of resolving Covered Claims relating to or arising out of your employment or termination of employment with Dollar General, whether brought by you or Dollar General. This includes, but is not limited to, claims alleging violations of wage and hour laws, state and federal laws prohibiting discrimination, harassment and retaliation, claims for defamation or violation of confidentiality obligations, claims for wrongful termination, tort claims, and claims alleging violation of any other state or federal laws, except claims that are prohibited by law from being decided in arbitration, and those claims specifically excluded in the paragraph below.

(Id.)[2] The Arbitration Agreement also contains a provision stating that arbitration “will be conducted in accordance with the terms set forth in [the] Agreement and the Employment Arbitration Rules of AAA (the “Rules”), except as superseded by the terms of this Agreement.” (Id.)

         Plaintiff does not dispute that he agreed to the terms of the Arbitration Agreement. Plaintiff also does not contend that his ADEA claims fall outside the scope of the Arbitration Agreement.[3] Rather, Plaintiff contends that the Arbitration Agreement “should be voided” because he did not begin working for Defendant in October 2015 when he signed the Arbitration Agreement. (Pl.'s Response [Doc. #15] at 2.)[4] Plaintiff alleges that the Defendants misled him as to the Dollar General location where he would work, that Defendants instead transferred Plaintiff to a store other than the one to which he applied, that Plaintiff did ...


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