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Considine v. Brookdale Senior Living, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

August 21, 2015

KERRY CONSIDINE, Plaintiff,
v.
BROOKDALE SENIOR LIVING, INC., Defendant

Page 84

          For Kerry Considine, Plaintiff: Allison Wright, Janson Wu, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Gary D Buseck, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Boston, MA.

         For Brookdale Senior Living, Inc., Defendant: Matthew K. Curtin, Patricia E. Reilly, Littler Mendelson, P.C.-NH, CT, New Haven, CT.

Page 85

         RULING ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS AND/OR TO COMPEL ARBITRATION

         Victor A. Bolden, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff, Kerry Considine, has filed a Complaint against her employer, Brookdale Senior Living, Inc. (" Brookdale" ), alleging that it improperly denied her same-sex spouse health and dental insurance coverage. She claims that Brookdale's actions violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (" Title VII" ), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., the Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d), and the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act (" CFEPA" ), Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46a-60. Am. Compl. ¶ ¶ 33-43, ECF No. 19. She seeks a declaration that Brookdale violated all three statutes and that it must, " as a matter of law, [ ] make spousal health and dental insurance coverage benefits available to eligible employees with same-sex spouses on the same terms as made available to eligible employees with different-sex spouses." Id. at Prayers for Relief ¶ 1. She also seeks an injunction enjoining Brookdale from denying same-sex spousal health and dental benefits available to its employees. Id. at Prayers for Relief ¶ 2. While her First Amended Complaint also seeks attorney's fees and costs, at oral argument held on August 18, 2015, she agreed to withdraw these claims. Id. at Prayers for Relief ¶ 3.[1]

         Before the Court is a motion submitted by Brookdale seeking to dismiss the case and compel arbitration. Mot. To Dismiss, ECF No. 28.[2] For the reasons that follow, the Second Motion to Dismiss and/or Compel Arbitration, ECF No. 28, is GRANTED IN PART in that the Court finds that the matter must be sent to arbitration for a determination on the question of arbitrability. The remainder of the relief requested in the Second Motion to Dismiss is DENIED AS MOOT.

         

Page 86

         I. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

         Ms. Considine alleges that she was hired by Brookdale in 2012 as a " licensed physical therapist" and currently works as an " Ancillary Services Manager" in three Brookdale facilities located in West Hartford and Farmingdale, Connecticut. Am. Compl. ¶ ¶ 12-13, ECF No. 19. She alleges that as part of her compensation for this job, she receives health and dental insurance, self-insured through Brookdale and administered through United Healthcare. Id. ¶ ¶ 15-16. She claims that Brookdale offers " qualified employees" the option of obtaining health and dental insurance coverage for their spouses, and that Ms. Considine is a " qualified employee" for the purposes of obtaining such coverage. Id. ¶ ¶ 17-18.

         Ms. Considine alleges that she married her female spouse, Renee Considine, in Massachusetts on November 1, 2013. Id. ¶ 19. She claims that in October and November 2013, she asked Brookdale twice whether her female spouse, Renee Considine, could be added to and covered by her health and dental insurance plans as her spouse. Id. ¶ ¶ 21?23. Ms. Considine alleges that Brookdale responded to both of her inquiries and explained that it would not provide coverage because her spouse was the same sex. Id.

         Ms. Considine claims that she filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (" EEOC" ) on January 17, 2014. Id. ¶ 24. She alleges that she obtained a right to sue letter from the EEOC on October 1, 2014 and subsequently filed this lawsuit within the timeframe required by section 2000e-5(f)(1) of title 42 of the United States Code. Id. ¶ ¶ 9-10.

         Ms. Considine also claims that after she filed her discrimination charge with the EEOC but before she received her right to sue letter, Brookdale informed its employees on February 19, 2014 that effective March 1, 2014, it would voluntarily provide same-sex spouses with health and dental insurance coverage. Id. ¶ 25.[3] Ms. Considine also alleges that Brookdale believes it is not legally required to offer insurance benefits to same-sex spouses and has chosen to do so voluntarily. Id. ¶ ¶ 26?28. Accordingly, she claims that Brookdale also believes it may rescind health and dental insurance benefits it currently provides to same-sex spouses at any time. Id. She claims that this position makes the benefits she currently receives " uncertain[ and] insecure," which " constitutes continued and ongoing discrimination based on sex." Id. ¶ 29-31.

         II. THE AGREEMENT TO ARBITRATE

         Brookdale indicates that Ms. Considine signed an agreement to arbitrate certain disputes arising from her employment and has attached the agreement to its Second Motion to Dismiss for the Court's consideration. Ex. A, Employment Binding Arbitration Agreement, ECF No. 28-2 [hereinafter " Arbitration Agreement" ]. Ms. Considine does not object to the accuracy or authenticity of the arbitration agreement provided by Brookdale. She also does not dispute that she signed the agreement.

         The agreement provides that " [a]s a condition of [her] employment [ ], [Ms. Considine] agree[s] that any controversy or claim arising out of or relating to [her] employment relationship with [Brookdale] or the termination of that relationship, must be submitted for final and binding ...


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