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Hamed v. Fry's Electronics, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Sherman Division

December 11, 2017

EHSAN HAMED
v.
FRY'S ELECTRONICS, INC.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          AMOS L. MAZZANT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the Court is Defendant Fry's Electronics, Inc.'s Motion to Compel Arbitration (Dkt. #3). The Court, having considered the relevant pleadings, finds the motion is granted.

         BACKGROUND

         On August 17, 2015, Plaintiff Ehsan Hamed began working for Defendant Fry's Electronics, Inc. On that same date, she signed an Agreement to Arbitrate Disputes Regarding Employment (“Arbitration Agreement”). The Arbitration Agreement states in pertinent part:

[Plaintiff] and [Defendant hereby agree that any and all disputes and/or controversies that [Plaintiff] has with [Defendant] or [Defendant] has with [Plaintiff] . . . arising from or in any way related to [Plaintiff's] employment by [Defendant], including but not limited to claims for damages and violations of state, federal and/or local laws and regulations related to harassment, wrongful termination, and/or discrimination . . ., shall be determined and decided by final and binding arbitration pursuant to the substantive and procedural provisions of the Federal Arbitration Act, and state law to the extent state law would otherwise be applicable, is consistent with the Federal Arbitration Act, and does not preclude or delay arbitration or apply to void or invalidate this Agreement or any portion of this Agreement. . . . In order to fully benefit from the arbitration process, [Plaintiff] and [Defendant] understand that they are waiving all rights to a court or jury trial and to a government administrative process for all disputes covered by this Agreement.

(Dkt. #3, Exhibit A at p. 2, ¶ 1).

         On September 25, 2017, Plaintiff filed her Original Complaint against Defendant alleging sex discrimination, harassment, hostile work environment, and retaliation in violation of state and federal law (Dkt. #1). On November 1, 2017, Defendant filed this Motion to Compel Arbitration (Dkt. #3). On November 15, 2017, Plaintiff filed a response (Dkt. #5). On November 29, 2017, Defendant filed a reply (Dkt. #6).

         LEGAL STANDARD

         “The Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) expresses a strong national policy favoring arbitration of disputes, and all doubts concerning the arbitrability of claims should be resolved in favor of arbitration.” Wash. Mut. Fin. Group, LLC v. Bailey, 364 F.3d 260, 263 (5th Cir. 2004). The FAA, “leaves no place for the exercise of discretion by a district court, but instead mandates that district courts shall direct the parties to proceed to arbitration on issues as to which an arbitration agreement has been signed.” Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc. v. Byrd, 470 U.S. 213, 218 (1985).

         When considering a motion to compel arbitration, the Court must address two questions. Graves v. BP America, Inc., 568 F.3d 221, 222 (5th Cir. 2009) (citing Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. v. Gaskamp, 280 F.3d 1069, 1073 (5th Cir. 2002)). “First, whether there is a valid agreement to arbitrate, and second, whether the dispute in question falls within the scope of the arbitration agreement.” Id. Concerning the first question of contract validity, the Court should apply “ordinary state-law principles that govern the formation of contracts.” Id. (citing First Options of Chicago, Inc. v. Kaplan, 514 U.S. 938, 944 (1995)). The second question of scope is answered “by applying the ‘federal substantive law of arbitrability . . . .'” Id. (quoting Mitsubishi Motors Corp. v. Soler Chrysler-Plymouth, Inc., 473 U.S. 614, 626 (1985)).

         ANALYSIS

         As a preliminary matter, Plaintiff filed a two-sentence response stating in total:

Although Plaintiff does not agree that she should be forced to binding arbitration with Defendant, Plaintiff files this non-response to Defendant's Motion to Compel Arbitration. If the Court compels arbitration, Plaintiff requests the Court abate this action until arbitration concludes, and requests the Court appoint one of the following as the ...

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