Hermès of Paris, Inc. v. Swain, No. 16-3182 (2d Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
In 2015, Swain was fired from his job with Hermès managing the company’s New Jersey boutique at the Mall at Short Hills. Swain, a New Jersey resident, sued Hermès in New Jersey state court, asserting claims under New Jersey state law for discrimination and hostile work environment on the basis of sexual orientation, retaliation, and breach of contract. Swain named Hermès, and Bautista, who worked with Swain at the Short Hills Hermès store, as defendants. Asserting federal jurisdiction based on diversity of citizenship, Hermès filed a petition in federal district court to compel arbitration under Federal Arbitration Act section 4, naming Swain as the only respondent and citing a dispute resolution protocol that he had allegedly signed. The Second Circuit affirmed, in favor of Hermès. Swain did not contest the arbitrability of his dispute or that Swain and Hermès were citizens of different states. The court rejected Swain’s argument that it should “look through” the petition to the underlying dispute, as defined in Swain’s New Jersey lawsuit, and conclude that complete diversity is lacking because Swain and Bautista, who is adverse to Swain in his state court litigation in New Jersey, are both citizens of that state.