Batiste v. United States Veterans Initiative

Filing 13

ORDER denying 12 Motion to Dismiss; granting 12 Motion to Compel Arbitration. ORDER that this action is stayed pending the outcome of arbitration. ORDER that the parties submit joint or separate status reports on the arbitration by 6/29/12. Signed by Judge Neil V Wake on 2/1/12.(TLJ)

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1 WO 2 3 4 5 6 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 7 FOR THE DISTRICT OF ARIZONA 8 9 Anthony L. Batiste, Sr., Plaintiff, 10 11 ORDER vs. 12 No. CV 11-01495-PHX-NVW U.S. Veterans Initiative and ADP Total Source, 13 Defendants. 14 15 16 Before the Court is U.S. Veterans Initiative’s Motion to Dismiss or, in the 17 Alternative, to Compel Arbitration (Doc. 12). Plaintiff’s response to the motion was due 18 January 30, 2012; however, to date no response has been filed. Failure to respond alone 19 is grounds for the Court to grant Defendant’s motion to dismiss. See L.R. Civ. 7.2(i). 20 The Court finds Plaintiff’s failure to respond to Defendant’s motion constitutes 21 acquiescence to the motion being granted. 22 Defendant’s substantive analysis and will therefore grant Defendants’ motion to dismiss 23 on the merits (Doc. 12). Nevertheless, the Court agrees with 24 Plaintiff’s Complaint lists three counts for relief: disparate treatment pursuant to 25 Title VII; retaliation; and race discrimination pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (Doc. 5). All 26 of Plaintiff’s claims relate to and arise from his employment with Defendant U.S. 27 Veterans Initiative. As part of his employment agreement, Plaintiff agreed to adhere to 28 1 the terms of employment outlined in Defendant’s Employee Handbook, which states in 2 relevant part: 3 5 [A]rbitration shall be the exclusive method for resolving any employment related dispute, and both the Company and the employee are giving up any right that they might otherwise have to have a judge or jury decide any such employment related dispute. 6 (Doc. 12-1 at 24.) In a December 31, 2009 letter to Defendant, Plaintiff makes clear that 7 he had read and studied the Employee Handbook (Id. at 3). 4 8 The Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) governs matters involving interstate 9 commerce, such as the employment agreement here. See 9 U.S.C. §§ 1, 2. The FAA 10 liberally favors arbitration and “mandates that district courts shall direct the parties to 11 proceed to arbitration on issues as to which an arbitration agreement has been signed.” 12 Samson v. NAMA Holdings, LLC, 637 F.3d 915, 923 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting Dean 13 Witter Reynolds, Inc. v. Byrd, 470 U.S. 213, 218 (1985)). This Court’s role is therefore 14 “limited to determining (1) whether a valid agreement to arbitrate exists and, if it does, 15 (2) whether the agreement encompasses the dispute at issue.” Chiron Corp. v. Ortho 16 Diagnostic Sys., Inc., 207 F.3d 1126, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000). 17 Here, the Employee Handbook sets forth a valid agreement to arbitrate. “While 18 the FAA ‘requires a writing, it does not require that the writing be signed by the parties.’” 19 Nghiem v. NEC Electronic, Inc., 25 F.3d 1437, 1439 (9th Cir. 1994) (quoting Genesco, 20 Inc. v. T. Kakiuchi & Co., 815 F.2d 840, 846 (2d Cir. 1987)). Although it is not clear 21 whether Plaintiff signed any agreement containing this provision, it is clear that he read 22 the Employee Handbook containing the mandatory arbitration provision (Doc. 12-1 at 3). 23 It can thus be fairly inferred that Plaintiff understood that by accepting employment with 24 Defendant, the Employee Handbook governed the terms of his employment. See id. 25 (finding valid arbitration agreement existed, absent any provision in signed contract, 26 where provision was contained in employee handbook and evidence showed employee 27 was aware of the provision). Because the arbitration provision provides for mandatory 28 arbitration of “any employment related dispute,” (Doc. 12-1 at 24), Plaintiff’s claims for -2  1 disparate treatment, retaliation, and racial discrimination in his employment are clearly 2 covered. The Court will accordingly grant Defendant’s motion to compel arbitration 3 (Doc. 12). 4 IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that U.S. Veterans Initiative’s Motion to Dismiss 5 or, in the Alternative, to Compel Arbitration (Doc. 12) is denied as to the motion to 6 dismiss and granted as to the motion to compel arbitration. 7 8 9 10 11 IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that this action is stayed pursuant to 9 U.S.C. § 3 pending the outcome of arbitration. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the parties submit joint or separate status reports on the arbitration by June 29, 2012. Dated this 1st day of February, 2012. 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 -3 

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