United States District Court, S.D. New York
OPINION AND ORDER
KATHERINE POLK FAILLA, District Judge.
Roseann Crawley's dispute with Defendant Macy's
Retail Holdings, Inc. continues. In Crawley v. Macy's
Retail Holdings, Inc., No. 15 Civ. 2228 (KPF), 2016 WL
6993777 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 29, 2016)
("Crawley''), this Court granted in
part Defendant's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's
gender-discrimination Complaint. The Court concluded that
Plaintiff had failed to state a claim for relief under Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§
2OOOe to 2000e-17 ("Title VII"), or the New York
State Human Rights Law, N.Y. Exec. Law §§ 290 to
301 (the "NYSHRL"). However, the Court allowed
Plaintiff's claim under the Equal Pay Act of 1963, 29
U.S.C. § 206(d) (the "EPA"), to go forward.
now moves, pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C.
§§ 1 to 16 (the "FAA"), to compel
arbitration of Plaintiff's EPA claim and to stay this
case pending the outcome of that arbitration. Plaintiff
opposes the motion, preferring that the instant case go
forward. While cognizant of Plaintiff's concerns, the
Court finds that Plaintiff's EPA claim falls squarely
within the parties' binding arbitration agreement, and
thus grants Defendant's motion.
I sets forth the history of the parties' dispute. In
short, Crawley did not receive a pay raise in 2010, but a
male co-worker did. Crawley I, 2016 WL 6993777, at
*2. In 2013, Plaintiff demanded that Defendant submit to
arbitration. Id. at *3. And in 2014, following an
evidentiary hearing, an arbitrator concluded that Plaintiff
was ineligible for a pay raise in 2010 because of workplace
disciplinary issues. Id. Believing that Defendant
had denied her that raise because of her gender, Plaintiff
sued Defendant in this Court in 2015, seeking relief under
Title VII, the NYSHRL, and the EPA. Id. After
Crawley I, only Plaintiff's EPA claim remains.
Id. at *9.
Opinion has a different focus. When Plaintiff arbitrated her
pay-raise dispute with Defendant in 2013 and 2014, she did so
pursuant to Defendant's internal
alternative-dispute-resolution program: the Solutions InSTORE
Early Dispute Resolution Program ("Solutions
InSTORE"). Whether Plaintiff must revisit Solutions
InSTORE to arbitrate her EPA claim turns principally on two
issues. The first is the scope of the arbitration provision
contained in Solutions InSTORE's governing document, the
Solutions InSTORE Plan Document (the "Plan
Document"). The second is whether Plaintiff agreed to be
bound by that arbitration provision when Defendant hired her.
The Court addresses each issue in turn.
The Scope of the Solutions InSTORE Plan Document's
InSTORE is "a comprehensive early dispute resolution
program" designed to "resolve employment-related
disputes as early and fairly as possible." (Melody Decl.
¶ 4). Defendant began developing Solutions InSTORE in
2003, and the program became effective on January 1, 2004 -
over nine months before Defendant hired Plaintiff on
September 9, 2004. (Id. at ¶¶ 4, 6, 14).
Solutions InSTORE's terms are set forth in the Plan
Document; Defendant revised the Plan Document in 2007 and
2014, but this Opinion focuses on the original 2004 version
(i.e., the version in effect when Defendant hired Plaintiff).
(Id. at ¶ 6).
InSTORE has four dispute-resolutions steps. At Step 1
("Open Door"), Defendant's employees are
encouraged to bring workplace disputes to "their
immediate supervisors." (Plan Document 3). An employee
dissatisfied "with the result of Step 1 can proceed to
Step 2 ("Review by the Office of Senior Human Resources
Management"), pursuant to which a Human Resources
executive will render a written decision on the
employee's grievance. (Id.). And if an employee
is not satisfied with a Step 2 written decision, and if the
employee's claim "involv[es] legally protected
rights, " that employee may move to reconsider the
decision under Step 3 ("Request for
Reconsideration"). (Id. at 4).
of Solutions InSTORE "is binding arbitration before a
neutral arbitrator and administered by the American
Arbitration Association ('AAA')." (Melody Decl.
¶ 8; Plan Document 5). As set forth in the Plan
Document, the breadth of claims subject to arbitration under
Step 4 is vast:
Except as otherwise limited, all employment-related legal
disputes, controversies or claims arising out of, or relating
to, employment or cessation of employment shall be settled
exclusively by final and binding arbitration [.]
* * *
All unasserted employment-related claims as of January 1,
2004 arising under federal, state or local statutory or
common law shall be subject to arbitration. Merely by way of
example, these claims include, but are not limited to, claims
arising under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
(ADEA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as
amended, including the amendments of the Civil Rights Act of
1991, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Family
and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), [and] the Fair Labor Standards
(Plan Document 5-6; see also Id. at 7 (reiterating
that "[a]ny unasserted employment-related dispute as
described in [the Plan Document], raised on or after [January
1, 2004, ] must be arbitrated ...