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Payne v. Menard, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

January 18, 2017

JANET PAYNE, Plaintiff,
v.
MENARD, INC., d/b/a MENARD, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOSEPH S. VAN BOKKELEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Payne sued Defendant Menard pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Payne also brought a claim for worker's compensation retaliation under Indiana law.[1]

         Menard moved to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3) on the ground that, by signing an “EMPLOYEE AGREEMENT” when she started working at Menard's, Payne agreed to a mandatory arbitration clause.

         Plaintiff moved for a stay, arguing that the charge she filed against Menard with the National Labor Relations Board on January 6, 2016-in which she complains about the arbitration agreement-may lead the NLRB to rescind the arbitration agreement, which would render the motion to dismiss moot. The Court granted the stay on February 18, 2016.

         On October 21, 2016, Menard moved to lift the stay given the resolution of the NLRB charge. The NLRB did not find the arbitration agreement invalid. The Court lifted the stay on October 24, 2016, and now addresses Menard's motion to dismiss.

         A. Summary of Facts

         The parties do not dispute the following facts. When Menard hired Payne, she signed an Employment Agreement. (Mot. Dismiss, DE 6, ¶ 3; Resp. Mot. Dismiss, DE 10 at 2.)

         This Agreement sets out a process for resolving claims:

6. Remedy. I agree that all problems, claims, and disputes experienced within my work area shall first be resolved as outlined in the Team Member Relations section of the Grow With Menards Team Member Information Booklet which I have received. If I am unable to resolve the dispute by these means, I agree to submit to final and binding arbitration. Problems, claims, or disputes subject to binding arbitration include, but are not limited to: statutory claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Fair Labor Standards Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, Americans with Disabilities Act, Family Medical Leave Act, and non-statutory claims such as contractual claims, quasi-contractual claims, tort claims, and any and all causes of action arising under state laws or common law.
These claims shall be resolved by binding arbitration with the American Arbitration Association (“AAA”) located at 225 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 252, Chicago, Illinois 60601-7601 under its current version of the National Rules for the Resolution of Employment Disputes. I understand that the AAA National Rules for the Resolution of Employment Disputes shall govern the fees in this matter, and that the costs of filing a demand for arbitration will not exceed the costs of filing a civil complaint in federal court. A copy of the National Rules for the Resolution of Employment Disputes and fee schedule of the American Arbitration Association may be obtained by contacting it at the address listed above.
I agree that all arbitrators selected shall be attorneys. This provision shall supersede any contrary rule or provision of the forum state.
Nothing in this Agreement infringes on my ability to file a claim or charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or comparable state or local agencies. These agencies have the authority to carry out their statutory duties by investigating the charge, issuing a determination, filing a lawsuit in Federal or state court in their own name, or taking any other action authorized under these statutes. I understand that I have the right to participate in such action.
Menard, Inc. is engaged in commerce using U.S. Mail and telephone service. Therefore, the Agreement is subject to the Federal Arbitration Act, U.S.C. Sections 1-14 as amended from time to time.

(Employee Agreement, DE 7-1, § 6.)

         At this point, the parties' claims diverge. Payne claims she suffered injury at work on May 28, 2014, when four cases of ceramic tile fell on her shoulder and arm. (Compl., DE 1, ¶ 13.) Plaintiff asserts claims under the ADA and ADEA, as well as a claim for worker's compensation retaliation under Indiana law. (Compl., DE 1.)

         Menard argues that the Employee Agreement requires Payne to submit her claims to binding arbitration. (Mot. Dismiss, DE 6, ¶ 4.) Accordingly, Menard moved for dismissal pursuant to Rule 12(b)(3).

         Payne's NLRB charge challenged the arbitration agreement. (DE 12-1 at 3.) But the Settlement Agreement regarding that charge provides that Menard's “arbitration program does not violate the Act as it relates to individual claims.” (DE 19-1 at 1.) Following the resolution of the NLRB charge and the lifting of the stay, the Court will now evaluate the motion to dismiss based on the arbitration clause.

         B. Discussion

         (1) Standard for Evaluating a Motion to Dismiss ...


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