The opinion of the court was delivered by: RAGGI
Plaintiff George Pitter sues his employer, the Prudential Life Insurance Company of America ("Prudential"), for race discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e to e-17 (1988 & Supp. V 1993), and the Civil Rights Act of 1866, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (Supp. V 1993). Prudential moves to stay this action and to compel arbitration of plaintiff's claim pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. §§ 1-14 (1994) ("FAA"). Having carefully considered the parties' submissions and oral arguments, the court hereby grants defendant's motion.
Pitter first submitted his claim of racial discrimination by Prudential to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on May 10, 1993. By letter to plaintiff dated August 24, 1993, Prudential's counsel asserted that, pursuant to the rules of the National Association of Securities Dealers ("NASD"), plaintiff was required to submit his claim to arbitration. The accompanying request that plaintiff withdraw his EEOC filing apparently went unanswered.
By December 1993, the EEOC had not yet completed an investigation of Pitter's claim. Thus, on December 10, 1993, at the request of plaintiff's counsel, the EEOC issued Pitter a right to sue letter. On March 28, 1994, plaintiff filed his action in this court.
The issue now before the court is not the merits of Pitter's discrimination claim, but rather the forum where, at least in the first instance, it should be addressed. The propriety of an arbitral forum must be considered because Prudential is a member of the NASD, a self-regulatory organization encompassing most of the firms that operate in the over-the-counter securities market. Pitter is registered with the NASD as a sales representative for Prudential, having filed a standard Uniform Application for Securities Industry Registration (form "U-4") on April 14, 1983.
In signing the U-4, Pitter specifically agreed to arbitrate
any dispute, claim or controversy that may arise between me and my firm, or a customer, or any other person, that is required to be arbitrated under the rules, constitutions, or by-laws of the organizations with which I register
Def.'s Notice of Mot. Ex. A. He also agreed to comply with all "rules and regulations" of the organization with which he was registering "as they are and may be adopted, changed or amended from time to time . . . ." Id.
At the time Pitter signed his U-4, part I, section 1, of the NASD Code of Arbitration Procedure ("the NASD Code") described those matters eligible for arbitration:
This Code of Arbitration Procedure is prescribed . . . for the arbitration of any dispute, claim or controversy arising out of or in connection with the business of any member of the Association, with the exception of disputes involving the insurance business of any member which is also an insurance company:
(1) between or among members;
(2) between or among members and public customers or others;
(3) between or among members, registered clearing agencies . . . and participants, pledges or other persons using the facilities of a registered clearing agency.
Part II, section 8, of the NASD Code specified when arbitration would be required:
Any dispute, claim or controversy eligible for submission under Part I of this Code between or among members and/or associated members, and/or certain others, arising in connection with the business of such member(s) or in connection with the activities of such associated person(s), shall be arbitrated under this Code, at the instance of:
(1) a member against another member;
(2) a member against a person associated with a member against a member or a person associated with a member against a member; and
Effective October 1, 1993, the NASD Code was amended. Part I, section 1, now provides more specifically for
the arbitration of any dispute, claim, or controversy arising out of or in connection with the business of any member of the Association, or arising out of the employment or termination of ...