United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
MEMORANDUM RE: MOTION TO DISMISS AND COMPEL
Introduction Plaintiff, Caesar Maldonado, alleges
that Defendant, SecTek, Inc., wrongfully terminated his
employment as a security guard after he suffered a hernia in
the course of his employment. Plaintiff seeks damages to
redress his injuries and alleges three Counts:
1. Count I: Disability discrimination in
violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C.
§ 12101, et seq. (“ADA”), as
amended by the ADA Amendments Act (“ADAAA”);
2. Count II: Disability discrimination in
violation of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 P.S.
§ 951, et seq. (“PHRA”); and
3. Count III: Wrongful discharge pursuant to
Shick v. Shirey, 716 A.2d 1231 (Pa. 1998), and the
Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Act.
before this Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and
Compel Arbitration pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act
(“FAA”) and the Collective Bargaining Agreement
(“CBA”) entered into by Defendant and the United
Federation of Special Police and Security Officers, Inc.
(“Union”), of which Plaintiff was a member. For
the reasons discussed below, Defendant's Motion to Compel
Arbitration is GRANTED, but the Motion to Dismiss is DENIED.
Parties and Events Alleged
Plaintiff's factual allegations as true, the factual
background is as follows. Plaintiff is a citizen of the
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania who resides in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania. (ECF 1, “Compl.” ¶ 1.)
Defendant is incorporated in Pennsylvania and has its
principal place of business in Reston, Virginia.
(Id. ¶ 2.) At all times relevant, Plaintiff was
employed by Defendant as a security guard at Independence
Hall. (Id. ¶¶ 9-10.) Plaintiff's
position involved heavy lifting, frequent walking, carrying
heavy equipment, and frequent bending. (Id. ¶
about August 20, 2015, Plaintiff suffered an incarcerated
umbilical hernia in the course and scope of his employment.
(Id. ¶¶ 12, 17.) The next day, Plaintiff
informed his supervisor, Dale White,  that he had been injured.
(Id. ¶ 15.) Initially, Plaintiff's hernia
was 2-3 centimeters in size, but over time and without
treatment, the hernia increased in size to eight centimeters.
(Id. ¶¶ 18-19.)
was scheduled to undergo surgery to repair the hernia on
October 6, 2015. (Id. ¶ 21.) When Plaintiff
asked White about his eligibility for short term disability,
White told Plaintiff that he “did not have” short
term disability. (Id. ¶ 22.) Ultimately,
Plaintiff was unable to undergo surgery until July 2018.
(Id. ¶ 23.)
November 16, 2016, “it was alleged” that
Plaintiff used a red dot laser pointer to signal to drivers
who were stopped on the road in violation of Standard
Operating Procedures. (Id. ¶ 26.) Plaintiff was
terminated on or about November 30, 2016. (Id.
¶ 24.) The November 16 incident was “[t]he
stated reason” for Plaintiff's termination.
(Id. ¶ 25.)
filed his first workers' compensation Claim Petition with
the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission
(“PHRC”) on February 2, 2017. (Id.
¶ 27.) Plaintiff filed a second Claim Petition on June
20, 2017. (Id. ¶ 28.) On July 26, 2018, the
PHRC sent Plaintiff a right-to-sue letter. (Id.
¶ 30; id. Ex. A.) The right-to-sue letter
features a case number issued by the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), reflecting the
dual filing arrangement between the PHRC and EEOC. (Compl.
December 10, 2014, representatives of the Union and Defendant
executed the CBA “for guard services at Independence
National Historic Park” in Philadelphia. (ECF 18,
“Mot.” Ex. 1, “CBA.”) The CBA became
effective on December 10, 2014 for all “non-economic
terms, ” and on October 1, 2015 for all “economic
terms.” (Id. ¶ 1.) By the terms of the
CBA, it remained in force until September 30, 2017.
(Id. ¶ 19.1.) Plaintiff was not a signatory of
the CBA, but Plaintiff does not dispute that he was a member
of the Union while employed by Defendant. Article 12 of the
CBA, entitled “Grievance Mediation and Arbitration
Procedure, ” sets forth a multi-step grievance
procedure, the last step of which is binding arbitration.
(Id. ¶ 12.1.)
Complaint was filed in this Court on February 14, 2019 (ECF
1). On April 10, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Request for Default
Judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b)(2)
because more than 21 days had passed since Defendant had been
served with the summons and Complaint on March 11, 2019 (ECF
8). On the same date, Plaintiff filed a Request for Trial by
Jury (ECF 9). On April 26, 2019, Defendant filed a Motion for
Extension of Time to Answer Plaintiff's Complaint
pursuant to Rule 6(b)(1)(B) (ECF 10). The Court held a
telephone conference on Defendant's Motion on April 29,
2019, and the Court granted the Motion on the same date (ECF
11, 13). Pursuant to the Court's Order, Defendant filed
an Answer to the Complaint on May 2, 2019 (ECF 15).
13, 2019, following a Rule 16 conference on that date, the
Court entered a Scheduling Order, which stated,
“Defendant may move to compel Arbitration under Union
agreement.” (ECF 16, 17 ¶ 7.) Defendant filed a
Motion to Compel Arbitration on May 18, 2019 (ECF 18).
Defendant contends that the agreement to arbitrate
employment-related disputes in the CBA is valid, and that
Plaintiff's claims fall within the scope of that
agreement. (Id. at 4-6.)
28, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Response in opposition to
Defendant's Motion (ECF 20, “Resp.”). In the
Response, Plaintiff contends that his claims do not fall
within the scope of the CBA because he is not an
“employee” as defined by the CBA. (Id.
at 8-9.) According to Plaintiff, he is not an
“employee” because he was terminated before he
filed claims with the PHRC or initiated litigation.
(Id.) Alternatively, Plaintiff argues that his
claims are not subject to arbitration because the arbitration
provision in the CBA does not contain a “clear and
unmistakable” waiver of his right to bring statutory
discrimination claims in federal court. (Id. at
9-10.) Finally, Plaintiff argues that even if the Court
determines that the waiver is “clear and unmistakable,
” the CBA should not be enforced because Congress did
not intend for arbitrators to enforce the ADA. (Id.
3, 2019, Defendant filed a Reply in support of the Motion
(ECF 21, “Rep.”). In the Reply, Defendant argues
that Plaintiff is an “employee” for purposes of
the CBA because his claims are based on allegations that
arose during the scope of his employment. (Id. at
1-2.) Defendant further argues that the CBA “clearly
and unmistakably” covers Plaintiff's claims.
(Id. at 2-5.) Finally, Defendant contends that the
ADA, by its terms, encourages arbitration to resolve
disputes. (Id. at 5.)
20, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to File a
Surreply, which the Court granted (ECF 24, 25). As a result,
Plaintiff filed a Surreply in opposition to the Motion on
July 17, 2019 (ECF 26, “Surrep.”) In the
Surreply, Plaintiff contends that the CBA does not contain a
“clear and unmistakable” waiver of
Plaintiff's right to pursue his PHRA claim in a judicial
forum because the arbitration provision does not expressly
reference the PHRA. (Id. at 2-4.)
next day, the Court held a hearing on the Motion to Dismiss
and Compel Arbitration (ECF 25). During the hearing, the
Court invited the parties to submit letters providing
citations to precedential judicial decisions in further
support of their positions. On July 25, 2019, both parties
submitted such letters (ECF 29, 30). In Plaintiff's
letter, Plaintiff stipulated to strike the wrongful
termination claim-Count III of the Complaint. (See
ECF 30.) As a result, only the ADA and PHRA disability
discrimination claims (Counts I and II) remain. Magistrate
Judge Strawbridge has scheduled a Settlement Conference for
August 28, 2019 (ECF 28).
FAA, which governs the arbitration and arbitrability of
disputes, provides that as a matter of federal law,
“[a] written provision” in a contract evidencing
an intention to settle disputes by arbitration “shall
be valid, irrevocable, and enforceable, save upon such
grounds as exist at law or in equity for the revocation of
any contract.” 9 U.S.C. § 2. Because the FAA
reflects a strong federal policy favoring arbitration, courts
must “rigorously enforce agreements to
arbitrate.” Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc. v.
Byrd, 470 U.S. 213, 221 (1985). “The FAA thereby
places arbitration agreements on ...