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Sande v. Masco Corporation

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

October 15, 2019

CHRISTOPHER L. SANDE, Plaintiff,
v.
MASCO CORPORATION, a Delaware Corporation; and RENEE STRABER, jointly and severally, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          VICTORIA A. ROBERTS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         At issue is whether Plaintiff Christopher Sande (“Sande”) can proceed in federal court on his claims or if he must proceed to arbitration.

         Sande says that Masco Corporation (“Masco”) and Renee Straber (“Straber”) (“Defendants”) discriminated against him in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (29 U.S.C. § 621), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. § 2000e), and the Michigan Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (Mich. Comp. Laws § 37.2101). Defendants argue that this dispute is subject to an arbitration agreement and the Court should dismiss Sande's claims, or, in the alternative, stay proceedings and compel arbitration.

         For the reasons below, the Court GRANTS Defendants' Motion to Dismiss.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Sande sues his former employer, Masco, for age discrimination and gender/sex discrimination under federal and state law. Sande sues Straber, his former boss, only under state law.

         Sande started working at Masco in June, 1998. He says that Defendants began to discriminate against him because of his age and sex in 2014, after Straber became his supervisor.

         In 2010, Sande signed a Dispute Resolution Policy (“DRP”) agreeing to submit employment-related claims against Masco to mediation and binding arbitration. In 2017, Masco sent out a new employee handbook with an updated DRP. Sande claims he did not sign the 2017 DRP.

         In August 2018 Straber terminated Sande's employment pursuant to a plan that would transition him out of the company by the end of the year.

         The parties agree that Sande's employment ended at the end of 2018. This means the DRP one-year time limit to file claims for arbitration would not bar Sande from filing his claims with the American Arbitration Association.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         To survive a motion to dismiss, the nonmoving party must allege enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). The facts must be construed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Power & Tel. Supply Co. v. SunTrust Banks, Inc., 447 F.3d 923, 929-30 (6th Cir.2006) (quoting Bovee v. Coopers & Lybrand C.P.A., 272 F.3d 356, 360 (6th Cir. 2001)).

         The Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) requires courts to “rigorously enforce” arbitration agreements. It outlines a “strong federal policy in favor of enforcing arbitration agreements.” Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc. v. Byrd, 470 U.S. 213, 217, 221, 105 S.Ct. 1238, 84 L.Ed.2d 158 (1985). Any doubts concerning the scope of arbitrable issues should be resolved in favor of arbitration. Moses H. Cone Mem'l Hosp. v. Mercury Constr. Corp., 460 U.S. 1, 24-25, 103 S.Ct. 927, 74 L.Ed.2d 765 (1983).

         The Court has four tasks when considering a motion to stay proceedings and compel arbitration under the FAA:

first, it must determine whether the parties agreed to arbitrate; second, it must determine the scope of that agreement; third, if federal statutory claims are asserted, it 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, it must determine whether to stay the remainder of the proceedings pending arbitration.

Stout v. J.D. Byrider, 228 F.3d 709, 714 (6th Cir.2000) (citation omitted).

         The parties do not dispute that the claims are within the scope of the arbitration agreement or whether Congress intended the claims to be nonarbitrable.

         IV. ...


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