United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
J. PAPPERT, J.
Schwartz worked for nearly thirteen years for Ritz-Carlton in
Philadelphia before being terminated. Feeling that he was
fired because of his age, Schwartz sued Ritz-Carlton under
the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C.
§§ 621, et seq.("ADEA") and
Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 P.S. §§ 951,
et seq. ("PHRA").Citing an arbitration
provision in Schwartz's Employee Agreement, Ritz-Carlton
moves to dismiss, or alternatively to stay the proceedings,
to enable the parties to resolve the dispute before the
American Arbitration Association. (Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No.
16.) The Court grants the Motion, compels arbitration and
stays this case for the reasons that follow.
hired Schwartz in 2000 as a manager and he received the
training afforded to new employees. (Compl. ¶ 4, ECF No.
1; Reply, Ex. 1 ("Bryant-Jackson Supp. Decl) at
¶¶ 6-7, ECF No. 18-1.) As part of that training,
employees receive an Employee Agreement that describes their
rights and Ritz-Carlton's three-stage procedure for
resolving disputes that arise in the workplace.
(Bryant-Jackson Supp.Decl. at ¶ 6.) At the first stage,
employees agree to attempt to resolve concerns with their
immediate supervisor, division head or general manager. (Mot,
Ex. A ("Employee Agreement") at 7, ECF No. 18-3.)
If this does not resolve the dispute, the employee proceeds
to the second stage and seeks further help through a Peer
Review Panel, which typically consists of three employees and
two managers. (Id. at 8.) Failing resolution, the
employee proceeds to stage three, arbitration. (Id.
at 11.) The arbitration provision in the Employee Agreement
I shall request Arbitration if I have been terminated or feel
I have been discriminated against based on race, color, sex
(including sexual harassment), religion, national origin,
sexual orientation, marital status, age or disability.
Arbitration is a process in which my workplace issue is
presented to a neutral third party, the arbitrator, for a
final and binding decision.
(Id.) (emphasis in original).
received a copy of the Employee Agreement and was trained on
the three-stage dispute resolution process. (Bryant-Jackson
Supp. Decl. at ¶¶ 3, 5, 7-9.) On November 15, 2000,
Schwartz and Assistant Director of Human Resources Vanessa
Bryant-Jackson signed the Employee Agreement, which included
the arbitration provision. (Id. at ¶ 10.) The
signature page was placed in Schwartz's personnel file
and he kept the remainder of the Employee Agreement.
(Id. at ¶¶ 10-11.)
completing orientation and training, Schwartz began working
as a PBX Manager, 12 but was transferred to the accounting
department after his position was eliminated. (Compl., ¶
4.) He became a Banquet Captain in 2003 and remained in that
role until 2012, when he began receiving criticism for his
job performance. (Id. at ¶ 7.) Schwartz
received three written disciplinary actions before he was
terminated on November 14, 2013. (Id. at
¶¶ 12-13.) He was 53 years old at the time and
believes he was really fired because of his age, alleging
that Ritz-Carlton sought to get rid of older employees.
(Id. at ¶¶ 8, 14-19.)
"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." Guidotti v. Legal Helpers Debt
Resolution, 716 F.3d 764, 776 (3d Cir. 2013) (quotation
and citation omitted). However, "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." Id. (quotation and citation
omitted). The summary judgment standard then applies to any
motion to compel arbitration. Id. at 776.
filed his Complaint on August 18, 2017 (ECF No. 1), and
Ritz-Carlton filed a Motion to Dismiss or Stay Proceedings,
contending that Schwartz's claims should be dismissed
because he agreed to arbitrate his age discrimination claims.
(ECF No. 3.) The Court denied the Motion without prejudice
and ordered limited discovery on the question of
arbitrability. (Order at 1 n.l, ECF No. 9.) Discovery
entailed declarations and supplemental declarations from
Bryant-Jackson and Crystal Champion, Director of Human
Resources for Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia. See
(Mot., Bryant-Jackson Decl., ECF No. 16-2; Bryant-Jackson
Supp. DecL; Ex. 2, Champion Decl., ECF No. 16-3; Ex. 2
("Champion Supp. DecL"), ECF No. 18-2.) Champion
was also deposed. (Ex. 1 ("Champion Dep.") at
26:11-26:21, ECF No. 17-1.) Schwartz was not deposed, nor did
he provide an affidavit or declaration which could constitute
record evidence to support any of the arguments made in his
response to Ritz-Carlton's Motion. With discovery
complete, the Court reviews Ritz-Carlton's renewed Motion
to Dismiss under the summary judgment standard. See
Guidotti, 716 F.3d at 776.
judgment is proper if the pleadings, discovery, disclosure
materials and any affidavits show that there is no genuine
issue of material fact and if, viewing the facts in the light
most favorable to the non-moving party, the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Smathers v.
Mutli-Tool, Inc./Multi-Plastics, Inc. Emp. Health
& Welfare Plan, 298 F.3d 191, 194 (3d Cir. 2002);
see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). A genuine issue of
material fact exists when "a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby Inc., 477 U.S.242, 248 (1986). A mere
scintilla of evidence in support of the non-moving party will
not suffice; there must be evidence by which a jury could
reasonably find for the non-moving party. Id. at
252. Summary judgment is appropriate where "the
nonmoving party has failed to make a sufficient showing on an
essential element of her case with respect to which she has
the burden of proof." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).
reviewing the record, a court "must view the facts in
the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all
inferences in that party's favor." Prowel v.
Wise Bus. Forms,579 F.3d 285, 286 (3d Cir. 2009). The
court may not, however, make credibility determinations or
weigh the evidence in considering motions for summary
judgment. See Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods.,530 ...