Murry v. Ross Stores Inc 1132
MEMORANDUM OPINION Signed by Chief Judge Karon O Bowdre on 12/19/13. (SAC )
2013 Dec-19 PM 03:23
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
ROSS STORES, INC.,
Civil Action Number
This matter is before the court on Defendant’s “Motion to Dismiss and Compel
Arbitration.” (Doc. 15). The Plaintiff has responded to this motion (doc.18) and the Defendant
replied (doc. 19); this matter has received thorough briefing. For the reasons stated in this
Memorandum Opinion, the court will GRANT the motion to compel arbitration, and then, will
GRANT the motion to dismiss.
The following facts are not in dispute.
On November 1, 2010, the Defendant, Ross Stores, Inc., hired the Plaintiff, Henry Murry,
as a store manager. On November 8, 2010, Murray and a Ross representative signed the “New
Associate Orientation Acknowledgment,” confirming that Murry received the Store Associate
Handbook, which contained the Arbitration Policy that was in effect as of that date. (Doc. 15-2).
Seven months later, on June 22, 2011, Murray electronically signed Ross’s Dispute Resolution
Agreement, clicking “I agree” after a paragraph acknowledging that he had read and agreed to be
bound by the agreement and that, by his signature, he was “agreeing to arbitrate covered
disputes” and that “disputes will not be resolved by a court or jury.” (Doc. 15-1, at 20). Ross
also signed the agreement. Before Murry signed the agreement, a pop-up on screen advised
Ross to “READ CAREFULLY THIS AGREEMENT . . .By agreeing to its terms you and Ross
are waiving your right to have disputes related to your employment heard by a jury and are
agreeing to have any disputed [sic] decided by an arbitrator instead.” (Doc. 15-1, at 14).
The Arbitration Agreement itself states that it is governed by the Federal Arbitration Act
and requires both Murry and Ross to arbitrate “any disputes arising out of or relating to the
employment relationship,” including disputes involving “compensation, termination, or
harassment, and claims arising under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Americans with Disabilities
Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act ....” (Doc. 15-2, at 5).
Subsequently, Ross terminated Murry. Murry filed the instant lawsuit against Ross on
February 26, 2013, alleging that “Ross Dress for Less” is guilty of employment discrimination
based on age, race, and disability and also in retaliation for Murry’s having filed a previous
charge of discrimination against Ross for alleged discriminatory employment practices. (Doc. 1).
Murry subsequently filed an amended complaint confirming those allegations. (Doc. 4).
Murry does not contest that he signed the Arbitration Agreement. Instead, he asserts that
the agreement is not enforceable because he claims Ross was not qualified to do business in
Alabama during the relevant period. In its reply, Ross attaches the Alabama Secretary of State’s
certificate with the Great Seal of Alabama affixed, attesting that Ross Dress for Less, Inc.
qualified to do business in the State of Alabama on March 15, 2004 and that its qualification has
not since been revoked, cancelled, or termination. (Doc.19-1, at 2).
The court first addresses the motion to compel arbitration. As Ross notes in its reply
brief, Murry disputes neither the existence of an arbitration agreement between the parties nor the
agreement’s contents. Rather, Murry’s sole argument in his opposition brief is that the
arbitration agreement is unenforceable because Ross was not registered to transact business in
Alabama during the period in question. Because Ross presents uncontradicted evidence from the
Alabama Secretary of State attesting to the fact that “Ross Dress for Less” was qualified to do
business during the relevant period, the court rejects Murry’s argument and FINDS that the
arbitration agreement is enforceable. The court further FINDS that the arbitration agreement
covers the claims asserted in the instant suit.
Accordingly, the court will GRANT the motion to enforce arbitration. In light of that
decision, the court will DISMISS this case without prejudice to its being reopened if arbitration
is not completed successfully.
Dated this 19th day of December, 2013.
KARON OWEN BOWDRE
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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