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Brock Services, LLC v. Montelongo

Court of Appeals of Texas, First District

August 8, 2019

BROCK SERVICES, LLC, Appellant
v.
EUSTOLIA DARAIT MONTELONGO, Appellee

          On Appeal from the 215th District Court Harris County, Texas Trial Court Case No. 2018-30236.

          Panel consists of Chief Justice Radack and Justices Goodman and Countiss.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Gordon Goodman Justice.

         Eustolia Montelongo brought suit against her former employer, Brock Services, LLC, alleging that she was subjected to harassment based on her sex and retaliation for having reported the harassment.

         Brock moved to compel arbitration. The trial court denied the motion and Brock appeals, contending that it proved Montelongo entered into a valid arbitration agreement with Brock and that Montelongo's claims fall within the scope of that agreement. We reverse and remand.

         BACKGROUND

         In March 2017, Brock offered to hire Montelongo as an industrial insulation installer. Brock conditions each offer of employment, including Montelongo's, on the prospective employee's agreement to adhere to Brock's Dispute Resolution Policy. Montelongo received a written copy of the Dispute Resolution Policy and an electronic copy of its Employee Handbook as part of the hiring process.

         The two-page Dispute Resolution Policy begins with a sentence written in Spanish, centered on the page and printed in boldfaced, capital letters, which translated into English, provides the following warning: "If you cannot read and understand this information in English, you must request this information in Spanish."

         The Dispute Resolution Policy then proceeds to explain that it

creates a mutual obligation to arbitrate between Brock Holdings III, Inc., its affiliates, subsidiaries and parent (the "Brock Group"), and all employees of The Brock Group (collectively, The Brock Group and employees of The Brock Group are herein referred to as the "Parties"), and is for the express benefit of all other persons or entities included in the definition of the term "Company" and "Company's Customer" (as both terms are hereinafter defined). Each, every, any and all claims, disputes and/or controversies now existing or later arising between or among the Parties, or between or among the employees of The Brock Group and any other person or entity constituting the Company or a Company Customer, whether now known or unknown, arising out of or related to employment or termination of employment with The Brock Group shall be resolved only through final and binding arbitration, pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. § 1, et seq., and not by way of court or jury trial.

         The Agreement specifies that it covers claims including those alleging

termination[] or harassment and claims arising under the . . . Civil Rights Act of 1964, Americans with Disabilities Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Family Medical Leave Act, Fair Labor Standards Act, Employee Retirement Income Security Act, and federal, state, or other statues and/or ordinances, if any, addressing the same or similar subject matters, and all other federal, state, or other statutory and common law claims including retaliation claims (but excluding other workers' compensation and unemployment insurance claims).

         With respect to these types of claims, the Dispute Resolution Policy further declares:

Nothing in this Dispute Resolution Policy shall be deemed to preclude a party from filing or maintaining a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the National Labor Relations Board or bringing an administrative claim before any agency in order to fulfill the party's obligation to ...

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