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Hayes v. Reinhart Food Service, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

March 1, 2017

TEREEK HAYES, Plaintiff,


          Schmehl, J.

         Before the Court is the motion of defendant, Reinhart Food Service, LLC (“Reinhart” or “Defendant”) to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint, or in the alternative, to compel arbitration and stay proceedings. Plaintiff, Tereek Hayes (“Hayes” or “Plaintiff”) has opposed the motion and Defendant has filed a reply. Having read the parties' briefs and reviewing all exhibits, and after oral argument on the motion, I will grant Defendant's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint and order this matter to proceed to arbitration.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, a former employee of Defendant, filed this employment discrimination claim against Defendant, seeking to recover for his alleged wrongful termination. Specifically, Hayes alleges that his employment with Reinhart was terminated because of his race in violation of Title VII. In connection with his employment with Reinhart, Hayes signed an arbitration agreement (the “Agreement”) which Defendant claims requires him to arbitrate all claims against Reinhart arising out of his employment in an arbitral forum, including race discrimination claims under Title VII.


         Plaintiff commenced work with Reinhart in December of 2013 as a truck driver and was fired on January 29, 2014. (Compl. at ¶¶ 5, 18.) As a condition of his employment, Hayes entered into a written arbitration agreement with Reinhart. (Docket No. 3, Ex. 1-A.) The Agreement contains an arbitration clause that states as follows:

Any legal claims or controversies (“Claims”) an employee may have against the Company or the Company may have against an employee must be resolved by arbitration instead of the courts, whether or not such claims arise out of an employee's employment or its termination . . . Arbitration is the exclusive forum for the resolution of such disputes, and the parties mutually waive their right to a trial before a judge or jury in federal or state court in favor of Arbitration under the Program . . . A dispute is based on a legal claim and is subject to the Program if it arises from or involves a claim under federal, state or local statute . . including . . . claims for harassment or discrimination (including, but not limited to, race . . .) This arbitration program includes, but is not limited to, claims under . . . Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

(See id.) The Agreement further states “By being hired or remaining employed with the Company, employees are agreeing to waive their rights to have a claim against the Company heard in a court of law.” (Id.)

         Hayes filed the instant Complaint on May 10, 2016, alleging discrimination and retaliation based on his race. (Compl. at ¶¶ 5, 20-56.)


         The Third Circuit recently “clarif[ied] the standards to be applied to motions to compel arbitration, identifying the circumstances under which district courts should apply the standard for a motion to dismiss, as provided by Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and those under which they should apply the summary judgment standard found in Rule 56.” Guidotti v. Legal Helpers Debt Resolution, L.L.C., 716 F.3d 764, 767 (3d Cir. 2013). As stated by the Third Circuit, “when it is apparent, based on ‘the face of a complaint, and documents relied upon in the complaint, ' that certain of a party's claims ‘are subject to an enforceable arbitration clause, a motion to compel arbitration should be considered under a Rule 12(b)(6) standard without discovery's delay.' ” Id. at 776 (quoting Somerset Consulting, LLC v. United Capital Lenders, LLC, 832 F.Supp.2d 474, 482 (E.D.Pa. 2011)). “But if the complaint and its supporting documents are unclear regarding the agreement to arbitrate, or if the plaintiff has responded to a motion to compel arbitration with additional facts sufficient to place the agreement to arbitrate in issue, then ‘the parties should be entitled to discovery on the question of arbitrability before a court entertains further briefing on [the] question.' After limited discovery, the court may entertain a renewed motion to compel arbitration, this time judging the motion under a summary judgment standard.” Id. (quoting Somerset Consulting, 832 F.Supp.2d at 482).


         Defendant argues that the arbitration agreement in this matter is valid and enforceable and therefore, should be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). Plaintiff argues that the FAA does not apply to Title VII cases, and that the arbitration agreement that Plaintiff signed was an unenforceable contract of adhesion.

         A. The Federal Arbitration Act Applies to ...

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