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Brown v. EQ Industrial Services, Inc.

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

May 6, 2019

GREGORY McKAY BROWN, Plaintiff,
v.
EQ INDUSTRIAL SERVICES, INC., d/b/a U.S. ECOLOGY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS (DOC. 4)

          AVERN COHN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. Introduction

         This is an employment case. It began when Local 324 (the Union) and Gregory McKay Brown (Brown) sued defendant EQ Industrial Services, Inc. d/b/a U.S. Ecology (EQIS) claiming race discrimination under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and Michigan's Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act, M.C.L. § 37.1101. Brown contends that EQIS discriminated against him based on his race when it rejected his applications for promotion in January 2015 and November 2015. As will be explained, following a hearing, stipulations, and supplemental briefing, the matter is before the Court on EQIS's motion to dismiss the Third Amended Complaint. For the reasons that follow, the motion will be granted because Brown's claims are time barred.

         II. Background

         A. Factual

         1.

         Brown is a current employee of EQIS. He began working for one of its many predecessors of EQIS on or about November 27, 1989. For much of his employment, Brown has worked in the part of the company known as Household Hazardous Waster Department/Program.

         On November 26, 2003, Brown executed an Application for Employment with a predecessor of EQIS. See EQIS Ex. 2, Application. Directly above Brown's signature, the application contains a 180-day contractual limitations period, which states, in relevant part:

I acknowledge that the term “the Company” as used below means EQ - The Environment Quality Company and any related companies to which I may transfer or be assigned including, but not limited to, Michigan Recovery Systems, Inc., Wayne Disposal, Inc. and E.Q. Industrial Services, Inc.
I agree not to commence any action or suit relating to my employment with the Company more than 180 days after the date of termination of such employment or after the date of the facts giving rise to the claim, whichever is earlier, and to waive any statute of limitations to the contrary.

         Also on November 26, 2003, Brown also signed a Dispute Resolution Agreement. See EQIS Ex. 4, Dispute Resolution Agreement. This agreement provides in relevant part:

EQ encourages the prompt and inexpensive resolution of disputes with applicants and current and former employees. Therefore, EQ asks its applicants and employees to agree to this Dispute Resolution Agreement for all claims and disputes (including claims or disputes alleging illegal discrimination) they may have concerning, arising from or relating to their application for and/or employment with EQ, except as specifically noted below. Your signature will acknowledge your agreement.
3. If the claim or dispute is not resolved to my satisfaction by EQ's Director of Human Resources, I will submit it to final and binding arbitration…I acknowledge and agree that I and/or EQ may move for the entry of judgment on any arbitration award in the appropriate circuit court or other court of competent jurisdiction.
4. EQ, as used in this Agreement, means The Environmental Quality Company, EQ-Industrial Services, Inc., EQ-Resource Recovery, Inc., Wayne Disposal, Inc., EQ-Northeast, Inc., and any related company by which I may be employed.

         The following language immediately precedes Plaintiff Brown's signature:

I understand and agree that I signed this Dispute Resolution Agreement I may not file a lawsuit in any court against EQ concerning, arising from or relating to my application to or employment with EQ and will, instead, be limited to the procedure set forth above, including final and binding arbitration. I believe this is in my best interest and in the best interest of EQ because it is likely to result in ...

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