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POWERS v. FOX TV STATIONS

January 5, 1996

STEVE POWERS, Plaintiff, against FOX TELEVISION STATIONS, INC., Defendant.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: SCHEINDLIN

 SHIRA A. SCHEINDLIN, U.S.D.J.:

 Defendant moves pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA"), 9 U.S.C. § 1 et seq., to: (1) compel arbitration of the claims asserted by Plaintiff; and (2) stay the action pending arbitration. For the reasons stated below, Defendant's motion is granted.

 A. Factual Background

 In 1980, Plaintiff Steve Powers was hired as a television reporter for WNYW-TV in New York. Following the acquisition of WNYW by Defendant Fox Television Stations, Inc. ("Fox"), Powers was employed pursuant to a series of written employment, contracts. The most recent such agreement, dated February 13, 1992, contained a broad arbitration clause which provided that:

 
All disputes and controversies of every kind and nature arising out of or in connection with this agreement shall be determined by arbitration in accordance with the procedure and provisions of the AFTRA Code.

 Affidavit of Clifford Thau, Defendant's attorney, dated September 14, 1994 ("Thau Aff."), Ex. B, P 16.1.4.

 Fox notified Powers' agent in October 1992 that, consistent with the terms of the employment agreement, it would exercise its right to terminate the agreement at the end of the twenty six week period then in effect. The agreement was terminated effective December 29, 1992.

 Powers brought this age discrimination action nearly two years later, on August 15, 1994, alleging that Fox terminated his employment in violation of the New York State Human Rights Law and New York City Administrative Code. See N.Y. Executive Law § 296(1)(a); N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-502(c). On August 30, 1994, Fox removed the action to this Court pursuant to its diversity jurisdiction. *fn1" Thereafter, Fox requested that Powers agree to arbitrate his claim pursuant to the arbitration agreement contained in his employment contract. Powers refused this request, and Fox brought this motion.

 Fox contends that Powers should be compelled to arbitrate his claim under the FAA. Powers, in turn, argues that arbitration cannot be compelled under the FAA because employment contracts are excluded from the scope of this Act, and because his claim does not fall within the arbitration clause contained in his employment agreement.

 A. Federal Arbitration Act

 First enacted in 1925, the FAA was designed to "ensure judicial enforcement of privately made agreements to arbitrate." Dean Witter Reynolds Inc. v. Byrd, 470 U.S. 213, 219, 84 L. Ed. 2d 158, 105 S. Ct. 1238 (1984). To this end, it makes written agreements to arbitrate controversies arising out of a contract "valid, irrevocable, and enforceable, save upon such grounds as exist at law or in equity for the revocation of any contract." 9 U.S.C. § 2.

 Section 4 of the FAA provides for orders compelling arbitration when a party has refused to comply with an arbitration agreement:

 
A party aggrieved by the alleged failure, neglect or refusal of another to arbitrate under a written agreement for arbitration may petition any United States district court which . . . would have jurisdiction . . . for an order directing that such ...

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