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Rohde v. Family Dollar Stores of Indiana, LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division

November 13, 2017

ASHLEY M. ROHDE, Plaintiff,
v.
FAMILY DOLLAR STORES OF INDIANA, LLC, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          THERESA L. SPRINGMANN CHIEF JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative to Stay, and to Compel Arbitration [ECF No. 15]. Ashley M. Rohde, a Plaintiff proceeding pro se, has sued her former employer, the Defendant, Family Dollar Stores of Indiana, LLC, for discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and retaliation for asserting a right to benefits under the Indiana Workers Compensation Act. The Defendant requests that the Court dismiss all claims against the Defendant or, in the alternative, stay this action pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. § 1 et seq., and Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and compel the parties to pursue arbitration. For the reasons stated herein, the Court dismisses the Plaintiff's Complaint [ECF No. 1].

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The burden to avoid compelled arbitration is analogous to that required to successfully oppose summary judgment under Rule 56. Tinder v. Pinkerton Sec., 305 F.3d 728, 735 (7th Cir. 2002). That is, “the opposing party must demonstrate that a genuine issue of material fact warranting a trial exists.” Id. “Just as in summary judgment proceedings, a party cannot avoid compelled arbitration by generally denying the facts upon which the right to arbitration rests; the party must identify specific evidence in the record demonstrating a material factual dispute for trial.” Id. The Court also notes that the summary judgment standard is appropriate because the Defendant has presented matters outside the pleadings in support of their Motion to Dismiss. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d).

         STATEMENT OF FACTS

         The Defendant maintains that the parties entered into an arbitration agreement (Arbitration Agreement) to arbitrate all claims arising out of or related to the Plaintiff's employment at Family Dollar.

         A. The Plaintiff's Employment with Family Dollar

         The Plaintiff was an employee of the Defendant, located in Fort Wayne, Indiana. (Neeley Decl. ¶ 8, ECF No. 17-1.) The Plaintiff accepted employment with the Defendant on August 5, 2015, at which time she completed her onboarding process. (Id. ¶¶ 8, 19.) The Defendant uses an electronic onboarding system called “Taleo” through which the Defendant presents onboarding materials to new hires and maintains records of employees' receipt, review, and acknowledgment of all materials presented through this system. (Id. ¶¶ 7-8, 19.)

         B.

         The Arbitration Agreement

         Through the onboarding process, the Plaintiff received a written offer of employment with the Defendant on August 5, 2015. (Id. ¶ 6, Ex. A.) The offer letter informed the Plaintiff that executing the Family Dollar Mutual Agreement to Arbitrate Claims (the “Arbitration Agreement”)[1] was a condition of employment with Family Dollar, stating specifically:

Additionally, as a condition of employment with Family Dollar, you will be subject to and requested to execute a Mutual Agreement to Arbitrate Claims, which will require that both you and Family Dollar agree to arbitrate covered disputes, including without limitation, disputes arising out of or in connection with the employment relationship.

(Id.) The Plaintiff accepted employment with Family Dollar when she electronically signed the offer letter on August 5, 2015. (Id. at ¶ 19, Ex. A, Ex. C.)

         The parties engaged in a standard set of procedures for the onboarding. The Plaintiff created her own unique username and password when using Taleo, accepting the offer letter, and navigating the onboarding documents. (Id. ¶¶10-19, Ex. A, Ex. B, Ex. C.) The Plaintiff was prompted to click on a link titled “Open Door/Arbitration Memo.” (Id. ¶ 11, Ex. B.) After clicking on the link, she was taken to an electronic letter from the Defendant regarding the “Open Door Communication Guidelines/Mutual Agreement to Arbitrate Claims.” (Id. ¶ 12, Ex. B at 1.) This letter provided the Plaintiff with a summary of the Defendant's “Open Door Guidelines” and explicitly informed her that she and the ...


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