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Do v. Toyota Motor North America

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

January 3, 2018

THANH DO, Plaintiff,
v.
TOYOTA MOTOR NORTH AMERICA, WAYNE POWELL, AND PHILIP PAQUETTE, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION AND DISMISS THE COMPLAINT [DOC. 15]

          HON. GEORGE CARAM STEEH, Judge

         Plaintiff, Thanh Do, is a former Senior Engineer for Toyota Motor North America (“Toyota”). In January 2017, Do, who is Vietnamese, filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC against Toyota, alleging national origin discrimination. The EEOC issued a right to sue letter on June 21, 2017. Plaintiff filed this Title VII discrimination lawsuit on September 11, 2017 against Toyota and two of its supervisory employees.

         Plaintiff began to work for Toyota on April 30, 2012 in Saline, Michigan. On April 13, 2015, as part of a consolidation plan, Toyota introduced the One Toyota Arbitration Agreement and engaged in a rollout process which included distributing the Agreement and making it available to employees in three different ways: company email accounts, hard copy to the home address on file, and the Human Resources intranet portal.

         Each communication included the Agreement, a letter of explanation, and Frequently Asked Questions. Each communication included the following statement: “If you remain employed after August 14, 2015, you will be deemed to have agreed to the Agreement.” The Agreement went into effect on August 15, 2015. Plaintiff continued to work for Toyota until his voluntary resignation on July 10, 2017.

         The Agreement requires the parties to resolve any and all arbitrable claims through mandatory binding arbitration, including all “claims, disputes, or controversies, whether or not arising out of or relating to [Plaintiff's employment or its termination] with Company . . . or that [Plaintiff] may have against (1) Company [or] (2) Company's officers, directors, employees or agents in their capacity as such or otherwise . . . .” The Agreement defines “arbitrable claims” to include:

(1) all statutory claims; (2) claims for wages or other compensation due; (3) claims for breach of any contract or covenant (express or implied); (4) tort claims; (5) claims for harassment or discrimination; (6) claims for retaliation; (7) claims for benefits; and (8) claims for violation of any federal, state, or other governmental law, statute, regulation . . . .

         Agreement p.1 (emphasis added). The Agreement provides that the Federal Arbitration Act shall govern its interpretation and enforcement as well as all proceedings pursuant to it. The Frequently Asked Questions explain that “[a]ll legal claims of any kind are subject to arbitration, except for the very limited exceptions specified in the [Agreement].” Frequently Asked Questions No. 4.

         The matter is presently before the court on defendants' motion to compel arbitration and to dismiss the complaint. The court held a hearing on the motion on December 13, 2017 at which time it granted defendants' motion. The court explained its reasoning to plaintiff, who is representing himself in this matter, and indicated that it would follow its ruling with a written opinion. Defendants' counsel informed plaintiff how the arbitration process is to be initiated and said she would send plaintiff the relevant information by email.

         ANALYSIS

         When a party files a motion to compel arbitration, the party opposing arbitration “must show a genuine issue of material fact as to the validity of the agreement to arbitrate. The required showing mirrors that required to withstand summary judgment in a civil suit.” Great Earth Cos. v. Simons, 288 F.3d 878, 899 (6th Cir. 2002). “As a matter of federal law, any doubts concerning the scope of arbitrable issues should be resolved in favor of arbitration.” Masco Corp. v. Zurich Am. Ins. Co., 382 F.3d 624, 626 (6th Cir. 2004).

         “[W]hether or not a company [or individual] is bound to arbitrate, as well as what issues it must arbitrate, is a matter to be determined by the court.” City of Detroit Pension Fund v. Prudential Sec. Inc., 91 F.3d 26, 30 (6th Cir. 1996). The Sixth Circuit has identified four factors to consider when deciding a motion to compel arbitration:

First, [the court] must determine whether the parties agreed to arbitrate; second, [the court] must determine the scope of that agreement; third, if federal statutory claims are asserted, [the court] must consider whether Congress intended those claims to be nonarbitrable; and fourth, if the court concludes that some, but not all, of the claims in the action are subject to arbitration, [the court] must determine whether to stay the remainder of the proceedings pending arbitration.

Glazer v. Lehman Bros., Inc., 394 F.3d 444, 451 (6th Cir. 2005).

         I. The parties entered into a valid and ...


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