United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
MOHAMMAD M. KARGARIAN, Plaintiff,
PAPA JOHN'S PIZZA, et al., Defendants.
D. Whitney Chief United States District Judge
MATTER is before the Court on Defendant's Motion
to Dismiss, or in the alternative, Motion to Stay Proceedings
and Compel Arbitration, and supporting Memorandum, (Docs.
Nos. 6, 7). Having carefully considered the parties'
motions, memoranda, and affidavits in support, the Court
GRANTS Defendant's Alternative Motion to Stay Proceedings
and Compel Arbitration.
Mohammad Kargarian alleges Defendant violated Title VII by
terminating his employment based on his national origin.
(Doc. 1). In its Motion to Dismiss, or in the alternative,
Motion to Stay Proceedings and Compel Arbitration, Defendant
Papa John's Pizza (hereinafter “Papa
John's”) argues that arbitration is appropriate in
this case, based on the arbitration agreement that Plaintiff
signed as a condition of his employment at Papa John's.
(Doc. 6, Ex. 1, pp. 1, 3, 5). On January 2, 2019, the Court
issued a notice pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison,
528 F.2d 309 (4thCir. 1975), advising Plaintiff of
the burden he carried in responding to Defendant's motion
and setting a response deadline for Plaintiff who has thus
far proceeded pro se. (Doc. No. 13). Plaintiff responded in
opposition to Defendant's Motion on January 7,
2019. (Doc. No. 14). For the following reasons,
the Court finds that arbitration is appropriate in this
Federal Arbitration Act, which governs the enforcement of
arbitration agreements, “reflects a liberal federal
policy favoring arbitration agreements.” Adkins v.
Labor Ready, Inc., 303 F.3d 496, 500 (4th Cir. 2002).
Ambiguities regarding the scope of an arbitration clause are
resolved in favor of arbitration. See id. According
The FAA requires a court to stay “any suit or
proceeding” pending arbitration of “any issue
referable to arbitration under an agreement in writing for
such arbitration.” 9 U.S.C. § 3. This
stay-of-litigation provision is mandatory. A district court
therefore has no choice but to grant a motion to compel
arbitration where a valid arbitration agreement exists and
the issues in a case fall within its purview.
Id. at 499-501.
order to compel arbitration, “the court must first find
that an arbitration agreement exists between the
parties.” Hightower v. GMRI, Inc., 272 F.3d
239, 242 (4th Cir. 2001). If so, “the court must then
decide whether the dispute at issue falls within the scope of
the agreement.” Id. In determining the
validity of the agreement, courts apply state contract law.
See id.; Doctor's Associates, Inc. v.
Casarotto, 517 U.S. 681, 686 (1996).
is no dispute that North Carolina law controls
Plaintiff's employment contract, nor that the present
dispute falls within the purview of the arbitration
agreement. In North Carolina, a valid contract
“requires offer, acceptance, consideration, and no
defenses to formation.” Koltis v. N.C. Dep't of
Human Res., 480 S.E.2d 702, 704 (1997). Additionally,
North Carolina “has a strong public policy favoring the
settlement of disputes by arbitration.” Martin v.
Vance, 514 S.E.2d 306, 309 (1999).
neither Plaintiff nor Defendant have contested the formation
of the arbitration agreement. Papa John's requires all
employees to sign an arbitration agreement as a condition of
employment. (Doc. No. 6, Ex. 1, ¶ 5). North Carolina
courts have found that arbitration agreements in employment
contracts do not fail for want of consideration when both
parties are bound by the arbitration agreement, as is the
case for Mr. Kargarian and Papa John's. See
Martin, 514 S.E.2d. at 310-11. The Court has reviewed
the Arbitration Agreement and finds that a valid and
enforceable agreement to arbitrate exists between Plaintiff
and his employer. (Doc. No. 6, Ex. 1, p. 5).
order to waive its right to insist on arbitration, a party
must “so substantially utiliz[e] the litigation
machinery that to subsequently permit arbitration would
prejudice the party opposing the stay.”
MicroStrategy, Inc. v. Lauricia, 268 F.3d 244, 249
(4th Cir. 2001). Here, Plaintiff appears to oppose a stay
although has not provided specific reasons for why a stay
should not be granted. (Doc. No. 14). Defendant has not
initiated litigation nor utilized litigation in such a way as
to waive its right to compel arbitration. As such, the Court
finds no waiver of the Arbitration Agreement by either party.
a valid arbitration agreement exists between the parties and
no waiver has been found, Defendant's Alternative Motion
to Stay Proceedings and Compel Arbitration is GRANTED while
its Motion to Dismiss is DENIED. Plaintiff's complaint
and the arguments found therein are referred to the
appropriate body of arbitration. The parties are ORDERED to
proceed to arbitration and submit reports to the Court every
ninety (90) days. The ...