United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS OR STAY
EVANS BARKER, JUDGE United States District Court
sued Defendant, her former employer, under Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), the Age
Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Dkt 1. Before the Court is Defendant's Motion
to Dismiss or Stay Pending Arbitration. Dkt 11.
Plaintiff opposes the motion, contending that there is no
enforceable arbitration agreement. Dkt. 14. For the reasons
below, Defendant's motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED
Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) provides as follows:
If any suit or proceeding be brought in any of the courts of
the United States upon any issue referable to arbitration
under an agreement in writing for such arbitration, the court
in which such suit is pending, upon being satisfied that the
issue involved in such suit or proceeding is referable to
arbitration under such an agreement, shall on application of
one of the parties stay the trial of the action until such
arbitration has been had in accordance with the terms of the
9 U.S.C. § 3. The FAA also authorizes orders compelling
arbitration upon proper application. Id. § 4.
“Thus, if one party to a contract containing an
arbitration clause attempts to avoid arbitration and files
suit in the district court, the other party may move to stay
or dismiss the action on the ground that the FAA requires the
arbitration clause of the contract to be enforced.”
Volkswagen of Am., Inc. v. Sud's of Peoria,
Inc., 474 F.3d 966, 970 (7th Cir. 2007). If the
arbitration agreement is valid and the issues presented by
the complaint come within its terms, “the court has no
further power or discretion . . . but must order
arbitration” and stay or dismiss the action.
Id. at 971 (quoting Merit Ins. Co. v. Leatherby
Ins. Co., 581 F.2d 137, 142 (7th Cir. 1978)).
contends that the arbitration agreement she executed is
invalid under the law of Indiana because it is
unconscionable. Pl.'s Resp. Br. 3. We disagree. A
contract is unconscionable if it is one “such as no
sensible man not under delusion, duress or in distress would
make, and such as no honest and fair man would accept.”
Sanford v. Castleton Health Care Ctr., LLC, 813
N.E.2d 411, 417 (Ind.Ct.App. 2004).
points to the fact that her employment with Defendant was
conditioned on her adherence to the arbitration agreement,
presenting her with “a ‘take it or leave it
option.” Pl.'s Resp. Br. 4. But “[a]n
adhesion contract-i.e., a standardized contract, which,
imposed and drafted by the party of superior bargaining
strength, relegates to the subscribing party only the
opportunity to adhere to the contract or reject it-is not per
se unconscionable.” Sanford, 813 N.E.2d at 417
(quotations and citation omitted). Plaintiff may not avoid
the arbitration agreement merely by (correctly) insisting on
its adhesive character.
points next to the fact that her bargaining power and
sophistication in bargaining are far exceeded by
Defendant's. Pl.'s Resp. Br. 4. That may be so, but
inequality of bargaining power is implicit in any adhesion
contract, without rendering such contracts invalid.
Sanford, 813 N.E.2d at 417. In any event, “[a]
contract is not unenforceable merely because one party enjoys
advantages over another.” Id. Rather, the
inequality must be so great that “the weaker party is
made to sign a contract unwillingly or without being aware of
its terms.” Missler v. State Farm Ins. Co., 41
N.E.3d 297, 303 (Ind.Ct.App. 2015) (quotations and citation
omitted). Plaintiff has not shown, and we cannot perceive,
grounds to conclude that she was made to sign the arbitration
agreement unwillingly or unwittingly.
does not contend that the issues presented by her complaint
are not arbitrable under the terms of the arbitration
agreement. Her silence on this point is well taken.
See Dkt. 12 Ex. A, at 5 (arbitration agreement
covers “any and all disputes . . . which relate in any
manner whatsoever as to [sic] [Plaintiff's]
employment, including but not limited to . . . claims or
charges based upon . . . [the ADEA], [Title VII], and any
other civil rights statute[.]”).
claims are subject to a valid arbitration agreement.
Accordingly, Defendant's motion to dismiss is DENIED;
Defendant's motion to stay pending arbitration is
Clerk of Court shall administratively close this action. All
pending deadlines are VACATED and any pending motions are
DENIED as moot, unless and until they are reasserted
following the completion of arbitration and the re-opening of
this litigation. Parties may seek to reopen the case by
filing a joint status report thirty (30) days after the
conclusion of arbitration.