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MAYE v. SMITH BARNEY INC.

August 17, 1995

KELSEY MAYE, ET AL., Plaintiffs, against SMITH BARNEY INC., ET AL., Defendants.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: CONSTANCE BAKER MOTLEY

 MEMORANDUM OPINION

 I. BACKGROUND

 Plaintiff Kelsey Maye ("Maye") is a 21 year-old African-American male who resides in Kings County, New York. *fn1" Maye has been employed by Defendant Smith Barney Inc. since June 1993 and presently holds the position of assistant purchasing agent. Maye's highest level of educational attainment is the General Equivalency Diploma he received from Plainsfield High School in Plainsfield, New Jersey.

 Plaintiff Jermarlon Harris ("Harris") is a 21 year old African-American male who resides in Kings County, New York. Harris has been employed by Defendant Smith Barney Inc. since November 1993 and currently holds the position of assistant purchasing agent. Harris's highest level of educational attainment is the General Equivalency Diploma he received in Greenville, North Carolina.

 Defendant Smith Barney Inc. ("Smith Barney") is a Delaware corporation with a principal place of business at 1345 Avenue of the Americas in New York City, New York.

 Defendant Robert M. Skelton ("Skelton") is a white male who resides in the State of New Jersey. At all relevant times, Defendant Skelton was a First Vice President of Smith Barney and also was Defendant Shaw's supervisor.

 As a part of the hiring process, on March 1, 1994 and March 29, 1994 respectively, Maye and Harris completed and executed documents entitled "Principles of Employment." (Clark Aff. Ex. A.) In both cases, the respective Plaintiff's signature appears on a line immediately beneath a clause which reads "Understood and agreed." (Id.) The first paragraph of the "Principles of Employment" provides in pertinent part as follows:

 
You must observe the policies which we publish from time to time for employees. . . . These expectations are included in . . . "the Primerica/Smith Barney Dispute Resolution Procedure, the Primerica/Smith Barney Arbitration Policy, and the Employee Handbook, all of which are available for your review prior to your acceptance of employment, if your choose to review them. You will be asked to acknowledge receiving copies of the current versions of these with your New Hire paperwork when you begin employment. Remember - it is your responsibility to read and understand these policies and expectations. If you have any questions, now, or in the future, please ask.

 (Id. (emphasis in original))

 The fourth paragraph discusses Smith Barney's arbitration policy more specifically:

 
You agree to observe our dispute resolution/arbitration procedures for employee disputes. . . . These procedures include all employment disputes (including termination of employment) that you might have with Primerica/Smith Barney.* . . . In the unusual situation in which [the internal grievance] procedure does not fully resolve an employment related dispute, you and we agree to waive any applicable statute of limitations and to submit the dispute, within one year of the date it arose, to binding arbitration before the arbitration facilities of the New York Stock Exchange, Inc. ("NYSE") in accordance with the arbitration rules of that body then in effect and as supplemented by the Primerica/Smith Barney Arbitration Policy. A detailed description of these procedures is available in the Human Resources department for your review. Again, it is your responsibility to read and understand the dispute resolution/arbitration procedures. If you have any questions, now or in the future, please ask.

 (Id. (emphasis in original)).

 Finally, the "Principles of Employment" define employment disputes in part as follows:

 
These include, but are not limited to, all claims, demands or actions under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Civil Rights Act of 1866, Civil Rights Act of 1991 . . . and all amendments to the aforementioned, any other federal, state or local statute or regulation regarding employment discrimination in employment, or the termination of employment, and the common law of any state.

 (Id.)

 The Primerica/Smith Barney Employment Arbitration Policy provides that it is applicable to all persons employed by Smith Barney as of September 1, 1992 and to all Smith Barney employees hired thereafter. (Clark ...


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