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Hornbuckle v. Xerox Business Services, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Evansville Division

February 13, 2015

DEBORAH HORNBUCKLE, Plaintiff,
v.
XEROX BUSINESS SERVICES, LLC, Defendant.

ENTRY ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION AND DISMISS OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, TO STAY PROCEEDINGS PENDING ARBITRATION

RICHARD L. YOUNG, Chief District Judge.

Defendant, Xerox Business Services, LLC, d/b/a ACS, a Xerox Company ("XBS"), moves to compel the Plaintiff, Deborah Hornbuckle, to submit her employment dispute to arbitration and to dismiss her Complaint or, in the alternative, to stay this proceeding pending arbitration. For the reasons set forth below, the motion to compel arbitration is GRANTED and Plaintiff's Complaint is dismissed.

I. Background

On July 27, 2009, Plaintiff submitted an application of employment with XBS, and was hired soon thereafter. (Filing No.15-3, Employment Application and Dispute Resolution Plan, Ex. 1-C; Filing No. 15-4, Offer Letter, Ex. 1-D[1]). XBS employed Plaintiff until November 21, 2012, when it eliminated her position in a reduction-in-force. (Filing No. 14-1, Declaration of Shirley Pierce ("Pierce Dec.") ¶ 26). Plaintiff alleges that she reapplied for fifteen (15) open positions in December 2012, and was not hired for any one of them. (Filing No. 1, Compl. ¶ 15).

As a condition of Plaintiff's employment, XBS required Plaintiff to sign a document entitled "Dispute Resolution Plan and Rules." (Filing No. 15, Ex. 1-C, p. 7). The DRP Acknowledgement Form signed by Plaintiff specifically states that an offer of employment is contingent upon agreeing to the DRP and that Plaintiff is waiving the right to a jury trial:

I understand and agree that the DRP will be the exclusive means for resolving any dispute or claim concerning... the terms and conditions of my employment.... I understand that [XBS's] consideration of my application for employment and any offer of employment that may be made to me are contingent on my acceptance of the DRP as the exclusive means for resolving all disputes covered under the DRP.... I understand that by signing this document, I am waiving any right I might otherwise have to have a jury or judge resolve any claim I might have against [XBS]...

(Id. ). The DRP Acknowledgement Form also contained a hyperlink to the full, unabridged text of the DRP. The DRP contains the following language:

Employment or continued employment after the Effective Date of this Plan constitutes consent by both the Employee and Company to be bound by this Plan, both during the employment and after termination of employment. Submission of an application, regardless of form, for employment constitutes consent by both the Applicant and the Company to be bound by this Plan.

(Filing No. 15-1, Dispute Resolution Plan and Rules, p. 7). Plaintiff's Employment Guidebook and Code of Business Conduct Training reinforced the DRP provisions noted above. (Filing No. 16, Signed Acknowledgement, Ex. 1-E at pp. 61-62; Filing No. 19, Learning Transcript, Ex. 1-G).

In September 2012, XBS modified the DRP and issued a revised Dispute Resolution Plan and Rules. (Filing No. 15, [Revised] Dispute and Resolution Plan and Rules, Ex. 1-B). XBS notified Plaintiff of the Revised DRP on September 14, 2012, via her company-issued e-mail address. (Filing No. 14-1, Pierce Dec. ¶ 29). The notification was entitled "Important Notice - Changes to Xerox Business Services Dispute Resolution Plan and Dispute Resolution Rules" and contained information regarding the changes to the DRP and a link to the Revised DRP Plan and Rules. (Filing No. 19, Important Notice Email, Ex. 1-H). The email stated in bold letters:

You are strongly encouraged to review the following DRP carefully because the changes and updates impact your legal rights. These changes and updates will be effective thirty (30) days after you receive this Notice ("Effective Date"), without further notice and will automatically apply to you if you are still employed with [XBS] on the Effective Date.
[V]irtually all legal Disputes (as defined in the DRP) concerning your employment... are subject to final and binding resolution exclusively by arbitration. In other words, both you and the Company waive any right to have a Dispute decided by a judge or jury....
As noted above, by continuing your employment with [XBS] after the Effective Date you are accepting and consenting to be bound by the revised DRP. If you do not wish to accept and be bound by the terms of the revised DRP, you ...

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