United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO COMPEL
CHARLES S. HAIGHT, JR., SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Erin Murphy (“Plaintiff” or “Murphy”)
brought this action against her employer Glencore Ltd.
(“Glencore” or “Defendant”) alleging
discrimination based on gender and pregnancy, hostile work
environment, and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1)
(“Title VII”), the Connecticut Fair Employment
Practices Act, § 46a-60(7)(a) (“CFEPA”), and
the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, 42 U.S.C § 2000e (k)
(“PDA”). [See Doc. 1
(“Compl.”).] Plaintiff also requested declaratory
judgment on the matter of mandatory arbitration.
[Id.] Defendant moves pursuant to the Federal
Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C § 1, et seq. (the
“FAA”), to dismiss or stay these proceedings and
compel arbitration of Plaintiff's claims, arguing that
Plaintiff agreed in writing as a condition of her employment
to submit any such claims to arbitration. For the reasons
stated below, Defendant's Motion to Compel
Arbitration [Doc. 13] is granted, and the proceedings
will be stayed pending resolution of the parties'
following facts, derived from Plaintiff's Complaint and
the parties' briefing on the instant motion, are accepted
as true for the purposes of this Ruling. The facts stated
here are confined to those relevant to the present motion.
Erin Murphy has a master's degree in Business
Administration, Finance, and Marketing from the University of
Connecticut. [Compl. ¶ 13.] Prior to working at
Glencore, Ms. Murphy worked for Morgan Stanley from 2004 to
2006, Sempra Energy Solutions from 2006 to 2009, and Goldman
Sachs from 2009 to 2012. [Doc. 13-3 (“Polzer
Aff.”) Ex. A.]
about July 13, 2012, Murphy applied for a position at
Glencore. [Compl. ¶ 200.] In connection with her
application, Murphy completed a two-page employment
application form (the “Employment Application”).
[Id. ¶ 201.] The Employment Application
contained the following provision in italics above
Plaintiff's signature line:
“In consideration for Glencore's considering my
application for employment, I expressly agree that any
dispute between Glencore and me, including, without
limitation, my application for employment or my employment,
if I am hired, will be submitted to final and mutually
binding arbitration before the American Arbitration
Association (“AAA'') as the sole and exclusive
forum, and shall not be brought in any state or federal court
for ultimate resolution. Nothing herein shall prohibit me
from exercising my statutory right to pursue an
administrative charge or complaint, but any subsequent
litigation concerning such a charge or complaint shall be
subject to this arbitration agreement. Information regarding
the American Arbitration Association and its procedures for
handling employment disputes may be found at
completed, signed, and submitted the Employment Application
to Glencore, but does not recall reading the above provision
or ever discussing it with any representative of Defendant
prior to signing. [Id. ¶¶ 202-204.] Murphy
also contends that she completed the Employment Application
in about fifteen minutes, while waiting for her scheduled job
interview. [Doc. 26 (“Opp. Memo.”) at 4.] Murphy
began working as an Operator for the Crude Oil Desk at
Glencore on or about August 15, 2012, and continues to work
there to date. [Polzer Aff. ¶¶ 3-4.]
17, 2018, four months after Murphy filed a dual charge of
discrimination against Glencore with the United States Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (the “EEOC”)
and the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and
Opportunities (the “CHRO”), counsel for Glencore
wrote to counsel for Murphy citing the arbitration provision
in the Employment Application and advising that “should
Murphy decide to pursue her CHRO and/or EEOC claims, such
claims must be brought before the AAA and Glencore does not
waive its right to arbitrate” (the “May 17
Letter”). [Opp. Memo, Ex. A at 2.] Murphy contends that
she first became aware of the mandatory arbitration provision
upon receipt of the May 17 Letter. [Opp. Memo. at 4.] On June
18, 2018, Murphy filed the instant lawsuit, asserting claims
of discrimination based on gender and pregnancy, hostile work
environment, and retaliation under Title VII, the PDA, and
the CFEPA. [See Compl. ¶ 1.] On June 21, 2018,
Glencore filed the present motion to compel arbitration,
alleging that all of Plaintiff's claims are properly
subject to arbitration based on her assent to the Employment
Application. [See Doc. 13.] Plaintiff opposes
Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) codifies a
federal policy strongly favoring arbitration as an
alternative to litigation. See, e.g., Nicosia v.
Amazon.com, Inc., 834 F.3d 220, 229 (2d Cir. 2016) (the
FAA “embod[ies] national policy favoring
arbitration” (quoting AT&T Mobility LLC v.
Concepcion, 563 U.S. 333, 346 (2011))); JLM Indus.,
Inc. v. Stolt-Nielsen SA, 387 F.3d 163, 171 (2d Cir.
2004) (the FAA represents “a strong federal policy
favoring arbitration as an alternative means of dispute
resolution”); Morales v. Rent-A-Center, Inc.,
306 F.Supp.2d 175, 179 (D. Conn. 2003) (“[A]ny analysis
of a party's challenge to the enforcement of an
arbitration agreement must begin by recognizing the FAA's
strong policy in favor of rigorously enforcing arbitration
agreements.”). Consistent with this underlying policy,
the FAA “leaves no place for the exercise of discretion
by a district court, ” Dean Witter Reynolds Inc. v.
Byrd, 470 U.S. 213, 218 (1985), instead
requiring that a contractual
provision to arbitrate disputes arising out of the contract
“shall be valid, irrevocable,
and enforceable save upon such grounds as exist at law or in
equity for the revocation of any contract.” 9 U.S.C.
§ 2 (emphasis added); see also Genesco, Inc. v. T.
Kakiuchi & Co., Ltd., 815 F.2d 840, 844 (2d Cir.
1987) (“By its terms, the Act leaves no place for the
exercise of discretion by a district court, but instead
mandates that district courts shall direct the
parties to proceed to arbitration on issues as to which an
arbitration agreement has been signed.”).
Notwithstanding this strong presumption in favor of
arbitrability, however, “ordinary principles of
contract law apply” to evaluation of an arbitration
agreement, Ross v. Am. Express Co., 478 F.3d 96, 99
(2d Cir. 2007), and courts may invalidate arbitration
agreements based on “generally applicable contract
defenses, such as fraud, duress, or unconscionability,
” Doctor's Assocs., Inc. v. Hamilton, 150
F.3d 157, 163 (2d Cir. 1998) (citation omitted).
determine whether to compel arbitration, the Court must
consider (1) whether the parties entered into a contractually
valid arbitration agreement, and (2) whether the dispute
falls within the scope of the arbitration agreement.
Nicosia, 834 F.3d at 229. The issue of validity is
governed by state law principles of contract formation.
Id. Additionally, with respect to federal statutory
claims, the Court must consider “whether Congress
intended those claims to be nonarbitrable.”
JLM, 387 F.3d at 169 (citing Oldroyd v. Elmira
Sav. Bank, FSB, 134 F.3d 72, 75-76 (2d Cir. 1998)). The
court applies a standard comparable to the standard for
summary judgment: if there is no genuine issue of material
fact concerning the formation or scope of the agreement, the
court must decide as a matter of law to compel arbitration.
See Bensadoun v. Jobe-Riat, 316 F.3d 171, 175 (2d
Cir. 2003); see also Considine v. Brookdale Senior
Living, Inc., 124 F.Supp.3d 83, 88 (D. Conn. 2015).
Validity of the Arbitration Provision
concedes that her claims are within the scope of the
arbitration provision at issue. [Opp. Memo. at 5.] The
present dispute is therefore limited to two issues: whether
the parties entered into a valid agreement to arbitrate and
whether Congress intended Title VII claims to be arbitrable.
Resolution of these issues in the instant case ...