Zaken v. Jenny Craig, Inc., No. 2:2011cv02465 - Document 8 (E.D.N.Y. 2011)

Court Description: MEMORANDUM AND ORDER granting 4 Motion to Compel. For the foregoing reasons, Defendant's motion to compel arbitration is GRANTED. In its discretion, the Court concludes that a stay --not dismissal-- is appropriate. The matter will be stayed pending arbitration. So Ordered by Judge Joanna Seybert on 10/13/11. C/ECF (Valle, Christine)
Download PDF
Zaken v. Jenny Craig, Inc. Doc. 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK ------------------------------------X FERN ZAKEN, Plaintiff, -against- MEMORANDUM & ORDER 11-CV-02465(JS)(WDW) JENNY CRAIG, INC., Defendant. ------------------------------------X APPEARANCES: For Plaintiff: Stuart A. Jackson, Esq. The S.A. Jackson Law Firm, P.C. 70 East 55th Street New York, NY 10022 For Defendant: Cheoma Maria Smith, Esq. Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart 521 Fifth Avenue, 17th Floor New York, NY 10175 Peter O. Hughes, Esq. Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart 10 Madison Avenue, Suite 400 Morristown, NJ 07960 SEYBERT, District Judge: Plaintiff Fern Zaken (“Plaintiff”) sued Defendant Jenny Craig, Inc. (“Defendant”) for employment discrimination, claiming that she was derided, denied certain benefits and fired because of her religion. Pending before the Court is Defendant’s motion to compel arbitration and dismiss Plaintiff’s Complaint. compel is For the following reasons, Defendant’s motion to GRANTED and this matter will be stayed pending arbitration. Dockets.Justia.com BACKGROUND Defendant hired Plaintiff in May 2010, at which time Plaintiff signed the Alternative Dispute Resolution Agreement (“Agreement”). (Def. Mem. Supp. Mot. Compel 2; Cert. Valente Supp. Mot. Compel ¶ 6.) Under the Agreement, Plaintiff agreed “to arbitrate any and all disputes, claims, or controversies (“Claims”) [Plaintiff] may at any time have against [Defendant] . . . .” (Cert. Valente Supp. Mot. Compel, Ex. 1 (“Arb. Agm’t”); Def. Mem. Supp. Mot. Compel. 2.) Plaintiff alleged that during her employment with Defendant, Plaintiff’s immediate supervisors derided her, denied her a discount on Jenny Craig food--a benefit all other employees received--and fired her all because of her religion. Defendant in (Compl. ¶ 5.) New Supreme violations of 296(1)(a). (Compl. ¶¶ 3, 6-7.) the suit to New York In April 2011, Plaintiff sued this York Court Court, Nassau County, Human Rights Law State’s on for Section In May 2011, Defendant removed diversity grounds. (Def. Not. Removal. ¶ 12.) DISCUSSION Defendant clause requires argues Plaintiff action should be dismissed. 8.) that to the Agreement’s arbitrate and that arbitration her entire (Def. Mem. Supp. Mot. Compel 5-7, The Court agrees that Plaintiff’s claims fall within the Agreement’s valid arbitration clause. 2 I. Legal Standard Courts generally resolve four inquiries in determining a cause of action’s arbitrability: (1) whether the parties agreed to arbitrate; (2) the scope of the agreement; (3) if federal statutory claims are asserted, Congress’ intent that certain claims be nonarbitrable; and (4) if some, but not all, of the claims are arbitrable, whether to stay the balance of the proceeding pending arbitration. JLM Indus., Inc. v. Stolt- Nielsen SA, 387 F.3d 163, 169 (2d Cir. 2004) (quoting Oldroyd v. Elmira Sav. Bank, FSB, 134 F.3d 72, 75-76 (2d Cir. 1998)); see also Boey Chau v. W. Carver Med. Assocs., No. 06-CV-0526, 2006 WL 3780546, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. Dec. 21, 2006) (granting motion to compel arbitration claims). for federal employment discrimination In this case, the Court need only address the first and second issues. The strong Federal federal policy Arbitration favoring Act (“FAA”) arbitration. expresses Ragone v. the Atl. Video at Manhattan Ctr., 595 F.3d 115, 121 (2d Cir. 2010); see also Washington v. William Morris Endeavor Entm’t, LLC, No. 10CV-9647, 2011 WL 3251504, at *10 (S.D.N.Y. July 20, 2011) (staying a lawsuit that alleged, among other things, employment discrimination). The FAA states that arbitration agreements are valid, enforceable and irrevocable, unless such grounds exist for the revocation of the contract. 3 9 U.S.C. § 2 (2011); see also Ragone, 595 F.3d at 121 (quoting 9 U.S.C. § 2). with this policy, arbitration and the Court enforces resolves doubts in privately-negotiated agreements in accordance with their terms. In keeping favor of arbitration Collins & Aikman Prods. Co. v. Bldg. Sys., Inc., 58 F.3d 16, 19-20 (2d Cir. 1995). II. Agreement and Scope of Agreement The Plaintiff whether Court and must Defendant Plaintiff’s Agreement. resolve entered claims two into are issues: the within Agreement; the The Court answers “yes” to both. and Defendant entered into the Agreement. (1) scope whether and (2) of the First, Plaintiff Plaintiff signed the Agreement with Defendant on May 20, 2010, as a condition to her employment. Def. Mem. (Arb. Agm’t; Cert. Valente Supp. Mot. Compel ¶ 6; Supp. Mot. Compel 2.) Second, encompasses Plaintiff’s cause of action. arbitration doubts in clause favor of as broadly as arbitration. the Agreement The Court construes an possible and Collins, 58 resolves F.3d at any 19-20 (quoting David L. Threlkeld & Co. v. Metallgesellschaft Ltd., 923 F.2d 245, 248 (2d Cir. 1991)). The Court focuses on the factual allegations in the Complaint and will compel arbitration if the allegations underlying Plaintiff’s claim “touch matters” covered by the parties’ agreement. Genesco, Inc. v. T. Kakiuchi & Co., 815 F.2d 840, 846 (2d Cir. 1987). 4 Prototypical broad arbitration clauses are those “in which the parties agree to arbitrate any dispute, controversy or claim arising agreement.” under or in connection with the parties’ Oldroyd, 134 F.3d at 76 (noting such clauses are the kind of broad arbitration clauses that justify presumption of arbitrability); see also McDonnell Douglas Fin. Corp. v. Pa. Power & Light Co., 858 F.2d 825, 832 (2d Cir. 1988) (distinguishing between broad and narrow arbitration clauses). “[U]nless it may be said with positive assurance that the arbitration clause is not susceptible of an interpretation that covers the asserted dispute,” the Court will compel arbitration. Genesco, 815 F.2d at 847 (quoting S.A. Mineracao Da TrindadeSamitri v. Utah Intern., Inc., 745 F.2d 190, 194 (2d Cir. 1984)). Plaintiff discriminatory brought employment an action practices in against Defendant violation of New for York State Human Rights Law, specifically § 296(1)(a) of the New York Executive Law. (Compl. ¶ 7.) The Agreement’s language covers “any and all disputes . . . [Plaintiff] may at any time have against [Defendant . . . .” (Arb Agm’t.) This language is the type of broad language that encompasses all disputes between Plaintiff and Defendant. See Collins, 58 F.3d at 20 (finding similar language paradigmatic of broad clause); Boey Chau, 2006 WL 3780546, at *4 (stating prototypical 5 broad arbitration provisions includes agreement to arbitrate any claims arising from the parties’ agreement). Plaintiff’s action, therefore, falls within the Agreement. CONCLUSION For the foregoing reasons, compel arbitration is GRANTED. concludes that a stay--not Defendant’s motion In its discretion, the Court dismissal--is appropriate. matter will be stayed pending arbitration. SO ORDERED. /s/ JOANNA SEYBERT______ Joanna Seybert, U.S.D.J. Dated: to October 13 , 2011 Central Islip, New York 6 The