United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
A. FITZWATER, SENIOR JUDGE.
removed action alleging violations of Texas law in connection
with the termination of plaintiff's employment, the court
must decide whether the claims are subject to mandatory,
binding arbitration. Concluding that they are, the court
grants defendant's motion to compel arbitration, stays
the case pending the completion of arbitration, and directs
the clerk of court to close the case for statistical purposes
while the stay is in effect.
November 2013 Trunk Club, a Chicago-based clothing retailer,
hired plaintiff Haley Clark (“Clark”) to work in
its Dallas office. The following year, Trunk Club was
acquired by defendant Nordstrom, Inc.
(“Nordstrom”), and its employees, including
Clark, were required to sign the Trunk Club Dispute
Resolution Agreement (“Agreement”).
Agreement provides, in pertinent part:
[t]his Agreement applies to any disputes arising out of or
related to your application for employment with Trunk Club or
one of its affiliates, subsidiaries or parent companies,
including Nordstrom Inc. (hereinafter “Trunk
Club”), or your employment with Trunk Club or the
termination of your employment from Trunk Club.
Ex. A-1 at 1. It further provides that it
applies without limitation to disputes regarding the
employment relationship, trade secrets, unfair competition,
compensation, breaks and rest periods, termination,
discrimination, retaliation . . . or harassment and claims
arising under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, Civil Rights Act
of 1964, Americans With Disabilities Act, Age Discrimination
in Employment Act, Family Medical Leave Act, Fair Labor
Standards Act, Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act,
and other state and local statutes, addressing the same or
similar subject matters, and all other state statutory and
common law claims. Such disputes also include without
limitation disputes arising out of or relating to the
interpretation or application of this Agreement. However,
this Agreement does not apply to disputes regarding the
enforceability, revocability or validity of the Agreement or
any portion of the Agreement.
Id. at 1-2.
the time she was hired, until October 23, 2017, Clark worked
for Trunk Club without incident. On October 23, 2017,
however, two individuals from Nordstrom's loss prevention
department met with Clark at Trunk Club's offices and
accused her of stealing Nordstrom property and improperly
using her employee discount. Although Clark explained that
she was unaware that she was doing anything wrong with
respect to her employee discount and denied the accusation of
theft, Clark was informed that she was being
“reassigned” to her house for the remainder of
the day to await a decision from Nordstrom regarding her
employment status. Clark was later instructed to appear at
Nordstrom's offices that afternoon.
the meeting at Nordstrom's offices, Nordstrom terminated
Clark's employment and required that she sign the
following five documents: (1) Investigations Civil Notice,
(2) Calculation of Loss, (3) Adult Criminal Trespass Warning,
(4) Nordstrom Written Statement, and (5) Promissory Note -
Employee Caused Loss (“Promissory Note”).
Although Nordstrom eventually decided not to pursue the
$180.00 reflected on the Calculation of Loss form and
admitted that the Adult Criminal Trespass Warning was issued
in error,  it nonetheless sent Clark three different
letters (dated November 21, 2017, December 7, 2017, and
January 3, 2017) demanding from Clark the amount reflected in
the Promissory Note.
16, 2018 Clark sued Nordstrom in state court alleging claims
for violation of the Texas Debt Collection Practices Act,
Tex. Fin. Code Ann. §§ 392.001-.404 (West 2016
& Supp. 2018); violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade
Practices-Consumer Protection Act (“DTPA”), Tex.
Bus & Com. Code Ann. §§ 17.41-17.63 (West 2011
& Supp. 2018); and false imprisonment. She also seeks
attorney's fees and a declaration that the Promissory
Note is unenforceable as a matter of law and that the
purported debt is canceled. Nordstrom removed the suit to
this court and now moves to compel arbitration of Clark's
claims pursuant to the Agreement. Clark opposes the motion.
2 of the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) provides
that written agreements to arbitrate controversies arising
out of an existing contract “shall be valid,
irrevocable, and enforceable, save upon such grounds as exist
at law or in equity for the revocation of any
contract.” 9 U.S.C. § 2. 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)
(citing 9 U.S.C. §§ 3-4). When considering a motion
to compel arbitration, the court engages in a two-step
process. First, the court determines “whether the
parties agreed to arbitrate the dispute.” Webb v.
Investacorp, Inc., 89 F.3d 252, 258 (5th Cir. 1996) (per
curiam) (citation omitted). “This determination
involves two considerations: (1) whether there is a valid
agreement to arbitrate between the parties; and (2) whether
the dispute in question falls within the scope of that
arbitration agreement.” Id. (citations
omitted). Second, the court decides “‘whether
legal constraints external to the parties' agreement
foreclosed the arbitration of those claims.'”
Id. (quoting Mitsubishi Motors Corp. v. Soler
Chrysler-Plymouth, Inc., 473 U.S. 614, 628 (1985)).
“If there is a valid agreement to arbitrate, and there
are no legal constraints that foreclose arbitration, the
court must order the parties to arbitrate their