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Hojnowski v. Buffalo Bills, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. New York

February 3, 2014

DAVID HOJNOWSKI, Plaintiff,
v.
BUFFALO BILLS, INC., Defendant

Page 233

For David Hojnowski, Plaintiff: Andrew P. Fleming, Brent S. Salevsky, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Chiacchia & Fleming, LLP, Hamburg, NY.

For Buffalo Bills, Inc., Defendant: Scott Patrick Horton, LEAD ATTORNEY, Jaeckle Fleischmann & Mugel, LLP (Bflo), Buffalo, NY; Michael E. Hickey, Jaeckle Fleischmann & Mugel, LLP (Bflo), Buffalo, NY.

OPINION

Page 234

DECISION AND ORDER

WILLIAM M. SKRETNY, Chief United States District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

David Hojnowski, a former equipment manager for the Buffalo Bills, brings this action against his former employer alleging that it violated his rights under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the New York State Human Rights Law, and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. The Bills now move to dismiss each claim and compel Hojnowksi to pursue this dispute in arbitration. For the following reasons, that motion is granted.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Factual history

The full factual history of Hojnowski's employment with the Bills and his allegations against them are not relevant to the motion currently before this Court. It suffices to note that Hojnowski began working for the Bills in 1975 in " equipment

Page 235

operations." Over the course of the next 37 years, Hojnowski remained employed bye the Bills, executing successive one- or two-year contracts with the football team. His most recent employment contract was executed on February 15, 2011. It covered a two-year term beginning on March 1, 2011 and ending on February 28, 2013. (Overdorf Aff., ¶ 6; Agreement attached as Ex. A; Docket No. 6-1.) On September 5, 2012, then-Bill's General Manager, Buddy Nix, terminated his employment. The Bills, however, paid his full salary through February 28, 2013. (Id., ¶ 7.)

Section 12 of the employment agreement that Hojnowski and James Overdorf, the Senior Vice President of Football Administration, executed on February 15, 2011 contains an arbitration clause. It provides:

Employee agrees that all matters in dispute between Employee and Employer, including without limitation any dispute arising from the terms of this Agreement, shall be referred to the NFL Commissioner for binding arbitration, and his decision shall be accepted as final, complete, conclusive, binding and unappealable by the Employee and Employer.

(Id., ¶ 10.)

The National Football League has also issued procedural guidelines to govern arbitration proceedings. (Id., ¶ 11; Guidelines attached as Ex. B.) No copy of those rules, however, was provided to Hojnowski or attached to the employment agreement.

B. Procedural history

Hojnowski initiated this action by filing a complaint in this Court on April 18, 2013. Soon thereafter, on May 13, 2013, Defendant moved to dismiss the complaint. Briefing on that motion concluded on January 28, 2014, when this Court permitted Hojnowski to file ...


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