The opinion of the court was delivered by: William C. Conner, Senior District Judge.
In this employment discrimination action, plaintiff Stephanie Prince
("Prince") asserts claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. and the New York State Human
Rights Law ("NYSHRL"), N YExec.Law § 296 against defendants Coca-Cola
Bottling Company of New York, Inc., Michael Drake ("Drake") and Leonard
Erlanger ("Erlanger"). Defendants move, pursuant to Rule 56 of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, for an order dismissing the complaint
on the ground that the claims are the subject of a valid arbitration
agreement; or alternatively, for an order pursuant to Section 3 of the
Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA"), 9 U.S.C. § 1 et seq. staying the
proceedings pending plaintiff's exhaustion of the grievance and
arbitration procedures under the applicable collective bargaining
agreement. For the reasons discussed below, defendants' motion is
At all relevant times, plaintiff was an employee of defendant Coca-Cola
Bottling Company of New York, Inc. ("CNY"). (Compl. ¶ 3). Since June
of 1994, plaintiff has also been a member of the Local 812 of the Soft
Drink and Brewery Workers Union (the "Union"). (Prince Aff. ¶ 5). CNY
and the Union entered into a Collective Bargaining Agreement dated
December 9, 1996 (the "CBA") with an effective term of June 1, 1996
through May 31, 2006. (Prince Aff. ¶ 5 and Young Aff. ¶ 3, Ex.
B). Although Prince did not take part in the negotiation of the CBA, the
CBA governs her employment with CNY because she is a member of the
Union. (Prince Aff. ¶ 5 and Young Aff. ¶ 3, Ex. B).
Article 41 of the CBA contains an "Equal Opportunity" clause which
In respect to employment, compensation, job
assignments, layoffs, promotions and all other
conditions of employment, neither the Company, nor the
Union, will discriminate against any employee or
applicant for employment, because of race, creed,
color, age, sex, national origin, handicap or veteran
status as defined under New York Laws and Federal
Laws, orders and regulations pertaining to equal
(Young Aff.Ex. B, Art. 41). A grievance procedure is subsequently
outlined by the CBA as follows:
When differences arise between the Company, the Union
or any employee of the Company as to any matter
relating to wages, hours, or working conditions or
employment, or any matter whatsoever including, the
meaning, interpretation, application or violation of
this Agreement, such differences shall be settled in
the following manner.
Step 1. [sets forth a procedure for the submission
of grievances to the relevant supervisor, first orally
then in writing signed by the Shop Steward.]
(Id. at Art. 44). The rules pertaining to arbitration of "all
complaints, disputes, controversies or grievances between the Company and
its employees" are set forth in Article 19. (Id. at Art. 19).
Prince alleges that, on a continuing basis and for months prior to
December 1, 1997, she was subjected by her supervisors, Drake and
Erlanger, to both a hostile work environment and quid pro quo sexual
harassment in the workplace. (Compl. ¶ 7). Prince claims that she
reported the incidents to the Union which in turn notified the Human
Resources Department of CNY, but that no remedial action was taken and
she was subjected to retaliatory behavior by the defendants. (Compl.
¶¶ 8-9). On or about December 1, 1997, Prince filed a charge of
discrimination with the United States Equal Opportunity Commission (the
"EEOC"). The EEOC issued a Notice of Right to Sue on December 22, 1997.
(Compl. ¶¶ 2, 10). Prince alleges that defendants retaliated against
plaintiff for filing the EEOC charge by, inter alia, ordering her to leave
the workplace and "stay home." (Compl. ¶¶ 11-12).
Plaintiff commenced the instant action on December 28, 1997 claiming
that defendants' conduct violated Title VII, NYSHRL and the New York
common law of torts. Defendants now move for summary judgment, pursuant
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56, on the ground that the CBA requires plaintiff to
arbitrate her employment discrimination claims prior to filing suit in
federal court; or in the alternative, for a stay of the proceedings
pursuant to ...