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Rodriguez-Depena v. Parts Authority, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

December 12, 2017

JUAN RODRIGUEZ-DEPENA, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
PARTS AUTHORITY, INC., MICHIGAN LOGISTICS INC., NORTHEAST LOGISTICS INC., AKA Diligent Delivery Systems, Defendants-Appellees.

          Argued: September 18, 2017

         Appeal from the Sept. 30, 2016, judgment of the District Court for the Eastern District of New York (Eric N. Vitaliano, District Judge), ordering arbitration of a claim under the Fair Labor Standards Act and dismissing a complaint for violations of that Act.

          Abdul K. Hassan, Abdul Hassan Law Group, PLLC, Queens Village, NY, for Plaintiff- Appellant.

          Andrew P. Marks, Dorf & Nelson, LLP, Rye, NY, for Defendants-Appellees Parts Authority, Inc., Michigan Logistics Inc., and Northeast Logistics Inc.

          Before: NEWMAN, CALABRESI, and POOLER, Circuit Judges.

          JON O. NEWMAN, CIRCUIT JUDGE

         The issue on this appeal is whether claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., are subject to arbitration. The issue arises on an appeal by Juan Rodriguez-Depena from the September 30, 2016, judgment of the District Court for the Eastern District of New York (Eric N. Vitaliano, District Judge). The judgment granted the motion of Parts Authority, Inc., Michigan Logistics, Inc., and Northeast Logistics, Inc., aka Diligent Delivery Systems ("Diligent") to compel arbitration, and dismissed the complaint alleging FLSA violations.

         We conclude that FLSA claims are arbitrable and therefore affirm.

         Background

         Rodriguez-Depena was employed by the three defendants in 2015, all of which controlled his employment. His employment contract with Diligent contained a clause requiring arbitration of any dispute arising out the contract. He sued the defendants in the District Court, alleging that he was denied overtime pay in violation of the FLSA.

         The District Court ordered arbitration and dismissed the complaint. The Court relied on Judge Weinstein's thorough opinion in Bynum v. Maplebear Inc., 160 F.Supp.3d 527 (E.D.N.Y. 2016), appeal dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, No. 16- 3348 (July 13, 2016) (mem).

         Discussion

         Statutory claims are arbitrable unless Congress "has evinced an intention to preclude a waiver of judicial remedies for the statutory rights at issue." Gilmer v. Interstate/Johnson Lane Corp., 500 U.S. 20, 26 (1991). In the absence of any such indication of congressional intent, Rodriguez-Depena urges us to preclude arbitration on the authority of Barrentine v. Arkansas-Best Freight Systems, Inc., 450 U.S. 728 (1981). The issue in Barrentine was whether an employee may sue in a district court for an alleged FLSA violation "after having unsuccessfully submitted a wage claim based on the same underlying facts to a joint grievance committee pursuant to the provisions of his union's collective-bargaining agreement." Id. at 729-30. Upholding the right to sue in a district court despite the grievance proceeding, the Supreme Court contrasted collective rights arising out of a collective-bargaining agreement with individual rights conferred by a federal statute, in that case, the FLSA. See id. at 737.

         Ten years later, the Supreme Court in Gilmer upheld the enforcement of contractually required arbitration for an individual's claims under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 ("ADEA"). In doing so, the Court emphasized that in Barrentine the Plaintiff was granted access to a district court to assert his statutory claim after arbitration because the basis for the rights that had been previously asserted was a collective bargaining agreement. See Gilmer, 500 U.S. at 35. In light of Gilmer's explanation of the limited rationale of Barrentine, the earlier decision cannot fairly be read to preclude arbitration of an individual FLSA claim.[1] Judge Weinstein's opinion in Bynum convincingly ruled in favor of enforcing ...


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