United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division
RANDAL HALL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CHIEF JUDGE
the Court is Defendant CVS Rx Services, Inc.'s
("CVS") Motion to Compel Arbitration and to Dismiss
or, in the Alternative, Stay Proceedings. (Doc. 6.) The time
to respond has elapsed and pro se Plaintiff Deanna
Merideth Coleman has not responded to the motion.
Defendant's motion is GRANTED for the
is a former CVS employee who asserts that she was terminated
based on age and disability in violation of the Age
Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. §§
621-634 and the Americans with Disabilities Act 42 U.S.C.
§§ 12112-12117. (Compl., Doc. 1, at 3-4.) Plaintiff
exhausted her administrative remedies by filing a charge of
discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission, which issued a right-to-sue notice on May 15,
2019. (Compl., at 5; Doc. 1-1, at 1-2.) Defendant now moves
to compel arbitration, arguing that all of Plaintiff's
claims are covered by an Arbitration Agreement Plaintiff
entered during her employment. (Doc. 6, at 1.)
passed the Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA") "to
overcome courts' refusal to enforce agreements to
arbitrate." Allied-Bruce Terminex Cos. v.
Dobson, 513 U.S. 265, 270 (1995). The FAA was passed to
place arbitration agreements on equal footing with other
contracts. See Paladino v. Avnet Comput. Techs.,
Inc., 134 F.3d 1054, 1057 (11th Cir. 1998) . Section 2
of the FAA provides that arbitration agreements shall be
"valid, irrevocable, and enforceable, save upon such
grounds as exist in law or equity for the revocation of any
contract." 9 U.S.C. § 2. With this general federal
policy in favor of arbitration in mind, the first question
that must be addressed is whether the FAA governs this
applies to arbitration agreements which "evidenc[e] a
transaction involving commerce." 9 U.S.C. § 2. The
Supreme Court has construed this language broadly, holding
that Section 2's "involving commerce" language
must be read to extend the Act's reach to the limits of
Congress's Commerce Clause Power. Allied-
Bruce Terminex Cos., 513 U.S. at 268. Thus, the FAA
applies to all arbitration agreements that involve interstate
commerce in any way. Id. at 281.
Eleventh Circuit has held that the FAA's broad interstate
commerce requirement is satisfied in cases involving
employment disputes where the employer's overall
employment practices affect interstate commerce. Caley v.
Gulfstream Aerospace Corp., 428 F.3d 1359, 1370 (11th
Cir. 2005). Here, CVS employs workers across the country and
its employment practices, in aggregate, affect interstate
commerce. See id. (stating that Congress's
commerce power extends to "individual cases without
showing any specific effect upon interstate commerce if the
aggregate economic activity in question would represent a
general practice subject to federal control").
Therefore, the FAA applies to the instant arbitration
enacting the FAA, "Congress declared a national policy
favoring arbitration." Southland Corp. v.
Keating, 465 U.S. 1, 10 (1984). The policy fostered by
the FAA "does not require parties to arbitrate when they
have not agreed to do so." Volt Info. Scis., Inc. v.
Bd. of Trs. Leland Stanford Junior Univ., 489 U.S. 468,
478 (1989) . Therefore, the Court must determine whether the
parties agreed to arbitrate the dispute. See Mitsubishi
Motors Corp v. Soler Chrysler-Plymouth, Inc., 473 U.S.
614, 626 (1985). Under this direction, the Court must make
certain that the Arbitration Agreement covers the claim at
hand and whether a valid agreement existed.
creates a presumption in favor of arbitrability.
Paladino, 134 F.3d at 1057. The Eleventh Circuit has
held that if parties intend to exclude categories of claims
from their arbitration agreement, the parties must clearly
express such intent. Id.; Brown ITT Consumer
Fin. Corp., 211 F.3d 1217, 1222 (11th Cir. 2000). In
other words, issues will be deemed arbitrable unless it is
clear that the arbitration agreement does not include them.
First Options of Chicago, Inc. v. Kaplan, 514 U.S.
938, 945 (1995) .
case, the parties have expressed no intent to exclude
Plaintiff's claims from arbitration. The Arbitration
Agreement provides that "Covered Claims are any and all
legal claims . . . that an Employee may have, now or in the
future, against CVS . . . arising out of or related to the
Employee's employment with CVS ... or the termination of
the Employee's employment." (Def.'s Mot. Compel
Arbitration, Ex. 1, Doc. 6-2, at 9.) "Covered
Claims" explicitly include disputes based on
termination, the ADA, and the ADEA. (See id.)
Plaintiff's suit is based on allegations that she was
wrongfully terminated under the aforementioned Acts. These
claims fall within the language of the Arbitration Agreement,
and the Court is satisfied that the Agreement encompasses the
Court also finds that the parties entered into a valid
contract. State law governs this analysis. See Bazemore
v. Jefferson Capital Sys., LLC, 827 F.3d 1325, 1330
(11th Cir. 2016); Caley, 428 F.3d at 1368. "In
Georgia, '[a] definite offer and complete acceptance, for
consideration, create a binding contract.'"
Royal v. CEC Entm't, Inc., No. 4:18-cv-302, 2019
WL 2252151, at *4 (S.D. Ga. May 24, 2019) (quoting
Citizens Tr. Bank v. White, 618 S.E.2d 9, 11
(Ga.Ct.App. 2005)) (citing O.C.G.A. § 13-3-1). CVS
offered the Arbitration Agreement to Plaintiff with an
opportunity to refuse it, Plaintiff accepted the Agreement by
continuing to work for CVS and by declining to opt out of the
Agreement, and the Agreement is supported by consideration in
the forms of a mutual promise to arbitrate and
Plaintiff's continued employment. (See generally
Def.'s Mot. Compel Arbitration, Ex. 1 (explaining and
exhibiting the process by which CVS employees are presented
with the Arbitration Agreement and that Plaintiff completed
the process and agreed to it).)
having found that the claims should be arbitrated, the Court
must decide whether to stay or dismiss the case. Because all
of Plaintiff's claims are subject to arbitration, the
Court exercises its discretion to dismiss the case without
prejudice. See Caley v. Gulfstream Aerospace Corp.,
333 F.Supp.2d 1367, 1379 (N.D.Ga. 2004), aff'd
428 F.3d 1359 (11th Cir. 2005); Anderson v. AIG Life
& Ret., 199 F.Supp.3d 1371, 1380-81 (S.D. Ga. 2016)
(citing Perera v. H & R Block E. Enters., Inc.,
914 F.Supp.2d 1284, 1290 (S.D. Fla. 2012)).