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Bottoms v. World Class Learning Academy of New York, LLC

Supreme Court, New York County

July 30, 2013

SARAH BOTTOMS, Plaintiff,
v.
WORLD CLASS LEARNING ACADEMY OF NEW YORK, LLC, BRITISH SCHOOLS OF AMERICA, LLC, and JOHN TAYLOR and DAWN TAYLOR, Defendants. Index No. 151848/2013

Unpublished Opinion

ANIL C. SINGH, J.

In motion sequence 001, brought pursuant to CPLR 7503 (b) and 7502 (a), plaintiff Sarah Bottoms moves to stay the arbitration sought by defendants World Class Learning Academy of New York LLC (WCL), British Schools of America, LLC (BSA), John Taylor and Dawn Taylor (collectively defendants). In motion sequence 002, which is hereby consolidated with 001, defendants move, pursuant to 9 USC § 1, et seq. and CPLR 3211, to compel plaintiff to submit the claims alleged in the complaint to arbitration, and dismiss all the claims in this action. In the alternative, defendants request a stay of all claims pending arbitration, pursuant to CPLR 7503 (a), and move to dismiss the statutory claims as against WCL and John and Dawn Taylor.

BACKGROUND AND FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

Pursuant to an employment agreement dated September 17, 2010, plaintiff was hired by BSA to serve as the Director of Admissions and Marketing for WCL. WCL is BSA's New York-based school, located in New York, New York. In addition to WCL, BSA operates private schools abroad, as well ones in Boston, Charlotte, N.C. , Chicago, IL., Houston, TX., and Washington, DC. BSA is a Delaware limited liability company with its principal place of business in Texas. WCL is a Delaware limited liability company with its principal place of business in New York.

The employment agreement provides that plaintiff was, among other duties, required to "[o]ptimize school's enrollment, enhance positioning and raise school recognition in the community, enhance brand equity ... [d]rive and actively pursue enrollments and conversion rates of enquiries and outreach...." Nicotra affirmation, exhibit B at 1. The agreement subjected plaintiff to a three-month probation period. After the completion of such, plaintiff could be terminated only if plaintiff were found guilty of "willful misconduct, gross negligence, theft, fraud or other illegal conduct, any willful act that injures the reputation of the Company, drug use and/or drug abuse." Id. at 4.

The agreement also includes the following provision regarding arbitration:

"11. Arbitration
Your employer is British Schools of America LLC, operating in the state of Texas, USA.
"Should controversy arise that requires arbitration it will be undertaken by a single arbitrator licensed to practice law in Texas and should be solely and exclusively determined under Texas state law. Selection of the arbitrator should be mutually agreed in writing. The arbitrator should be appointed within 30 days of a request by either party for arbitration. The cost of arbitration shall be split equally between both parties.
"In the event that an arbitrator is not appointed or that any arbitration process does not produce an outcome acceptable to either party, any dispute will be solely and exclusively be determined under Texas state law."

Id. at 3-4.

Plaintiff signed the agreement, as did John Taylor, acting on behalf of BSA.

Pursuant to a letter dated January 3, 2013, plaintiff was terminated from WCL for low enrollment. She then filed a complaint against WCL, John Taylor and Dawn Taylor, grounded in wrongful termination and discrimination. Specifically, plaintiff filed causes of action against all parties for breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, discrimination, hostile work environment and retaliation under New York State and New York City Human Rights Laws. Plaintiff's complaint alleges that, during the course of her employment, she was subject to discrimination and hostile work environment based on her sex, age and nationality. She ...


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