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Harrod v. Signet Jewelers Limited

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division

August 16, 2016

SANDRA HARROD, Plaintiff,
v.
SIGNET JEWELERS LIMITED, et al., Defendants.

          Sandra Harrod, Plaintiff, represented by Reggie Koch, Koch Law Firm.

          Signet Jewelers Limited, Defendant, represented by Melanie Jo McClure, Cox, Sterling & McClure, PLLC.

          Sterling Jewelers, Inc., Defendant, represented by Melanie Jo McClure, Cox, Sterling & McClure, PLLC.

          Kay Jewelers, Inc., Defendant, represented by Melanie Jo McClure, Cox, Sterling & McClure, PLLC.

          Sterlhall, Inc., Defendant, represented by Melanie Jo McClure, Cox, Sterling & McClure, PLLC.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          BARRY A. BRYANT, Magistrate Judge.

         Before this Court is, Signet Jewelers Limited, Sterling Jewelers, Inc., Kay Jewelers, Inc., and Sterlhall, Inc. d/b/a Kay Jewelers ("Defendants"), Motion to Compel Arbitration. ECF No. 6. Plaintiff has filed a response to this Motion. ECF No. 9. The parties also filed Reply Briefing. ECF Nos. 11, 15. Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and (3) (2009), the Honorable Susan O. Hickey referred this Motion to this Court for the purpose of making a report and recommendation. A hearing was held on this Motion on July 11, 2016. ECF No. 16. In accordance with that referral, I make the following report and recommendation.

         1. Background

         In this matter, Plaintiff brings suit against the Defendants, alleging the Defendants interfered with her rights under the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993, ("FMLA") and this resulted in her wrongful termination while on FMLA leave. ECF No.1.

         On January 26, 2016, Defendants filed a Motion to Compel Arbitration. ECF. No. 6. With this Motion, Defendants seek referral of the issues to arbitration in accordance with the terms of the Arbitration agreement and to stay or dismiss the action pending arbitration. Id. According to Defendants, during Plaintiff's employment with the Defendants, she became a store manager, and upon the outset of her participation in the "Store Manager's Bonus Plan, " she signed an Acknowledgment confirming that she agreed to the following:

In consideration of the Company's Store Manager's Bonus Plan and the Company's binding and mandatory alternative dispute resolution program ("RESOLVE"), I agree to use RESOLVE to resolve covered disputes that I may have against the Company, including but not limited to disputes about this Bonus Plan. By signing this Store Manager's Bonus Plan, I knowingly and voluntarily waive my applicable statutory rights to file a lawsuit against the Company for a covered claim and my constitutional right to a jury trial. I have read and understand the Store Manger's Bonus Plan and I agree to its terms and conditions.

         Plaintiff responded and stated Defendants' motion should be denied because (a) the alleged contract does not name the parties; (b) the alleged contract lacks mutuality; (c) the alleged contract has no consideration, or consideration was extinguished by plaintiff's removal from management; and (d) the alleged contract does not identify what issues or disputes will require arbitration. ECF No. 9, 10. Plaintiff acknowledged signing this form upon being promoted to Store Manger. However, in early 2014, several months prior to Plaintiff's termination from the company, Plaintiff withdrew from management and became a salesperson. Therefore, Plaintiff also argues she wasn't working under this agreement at the time of her termination. Id.

         On March 2, 2016, Defendants filed a Reply brief which referenced "recently acquired documentation" that showed upon being hired in March 2008, Plaintiff was presented with a bound book of employment forms to complete on her first day of employment. ECF No. 11. These forms, which Plaintiff signed, included an agreement to arbitrate all employment claims under the RESOLVE program. ECF No. 11-1, Pgs. 3-16. With this Arbitration agreement, Defendants argue: (1) the agreement names the parties, (2) the agreement does not lack mutuality because Plaintiff and the Defendants agreed to use the ...


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