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Myers v. TRG Customer Solutions, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Columbia Division

February 5, 2018

MYLEE MYERS, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
TRG CUSTOMER SOLUTIONS, INC. d/b/a IBEX GLOBAL SOLUTIONS, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          ALETA A. TRAUGER United States District Judge

         Before the court are (1) Plaintiff's Motion for Entry of an Order Tolling the Statute of Limitations for Opt-In Plaintiffs (“Motion to Toll”) (Doc. No. 72); (2) Plaintiff's Motion to Stay Action Pending Arbitration, and Renewed Motion for Entry of an Order Tolling the Statute of Limitations for Opt-In Plaintiffs (“Motion to Stay” and “Renewed Motion to Toll”) (Doc. No. 77); and (3) Defendant's Renewed Motion to Dismiss the Action (Doc. No. 79).

         The motions have been fully briefed and are ripe for review. For the reasons set forth herein, the plaintiff's Motion to Toll (Doc. No. 72) and Renewed Motion to Toll (Doc. No. 77) are DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE; (2) the plaintiff's Motion to Stay (Doc. No. 77) is GRANTED; and (3) the defendant's Renewed Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 79) is DENIED.

         I. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff Mylee Myers filed this action under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., individually and on behalf of all similarly situated current and former employees of the defendant, TRG Customer Solutions, Inc., doing business as IBEX Global Solutions (“IBEX”), seeking to recover unpaid wages owed to her and similarly situated employees who have worked at IBEX's call centers in the United States. During the pendency of her Motion for Conditional Certification and for the Issuance of Court-Supervised Notice to members of the conditionally certified class (Doc. No. 8), several putative collective-action plaintiffs filed Notices of Consent to Become Party Plaintiffs. (Doc. Nos. 13-1, 17-1, 23-1, 24-1, 43-1, 46-1, 51-1, 52-1.) In addition, IBEX filed a Motion to Compel Arbitration and to Dismiss the Action, alleging the existence of a valid and enforceable arbitration agreement that required individual arbitration of the claims asserted in Myers' Complaint. (Doc. No. 57.)

         On November 15, 2017, this court entered an Order (Doc. No. 75) denying without prejudice Myers' Motion for Conditional Certification and the Issuance of Court-Supervised Notice (Doc. No. 8) and granting IBEX's Motion to Compel Arbitration. However, the court denied without prejudice that portion of IBEX's motion seeking dismissal of this case in its entirety. In the same Order, the court granted the plaintiff thirty days within which to file a motion to amend the Complaint to substitute appropriate named plaintiffs from among the current opt-in plaintiffs. In addition, the court invited the defendant to renew its motion to dismiss in the event that no motion to amend was filed within that time frame. (Doc. No. 75.)

         The plaintiff has now confirmed that she does not intend to file a motion to amend the Complaint, effectively conceding that all opt-in plaintiffs signed arbitration agreements similar to Myers'. The defendant, accordingly, renews its request that this action be dismissed rather than stayed pending arbitration. The plaintiff requests that the matter be stayed instead of being dismissed. She also moves for an order tolling the statute of limitations for all opt-in plaintiffs as of the dates they filed their opt-in consent notices, regardless of whether they subsequently choose to pursue their claims in arbitration.

         II. Plaintiff's Motion to Stay and Defendant's Motion to Dismiss

The Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) provides that
[i]f any suit or proceeding be brought in any of the courts of the United States upon any issue referable to arbitration under an agreement in writing for such arbitration, the court in which such suit is pending, upon being satisfied that the issue involved in such suit or proceeding is referable to arbitration under such an agreement, shall on application of one of the parties stay the trial of the action until such arbitration has been had in accordance with the terms of the agreement . . . .

9 U.S.C. § 3. In other words, a court generally should stay an action being referred to arbitration-rather than dismiss it-but, as the Sixth Circuit has recognized, only if three conditions are met: “First, the issue [being referred] must be arbitrable. Second, one of the parties must apply for a stay. Third, the party requesting the stay cannot be in default in proceeding with the arbitration.” Hilton v. Midland Funding, LLC, 687 F. App'x 515, 518 (6th Cir. 2017). In apparent recognition that § 3 implies a situation in which one or more-but not all-issues raised in an action are arbitrable, the appellate court has also acknowledged that, when all claims and issues are subject to mandatory arbitration, courts may dismiss the action rather than stay it. See, e.g., Andrews v. TD Ameritrade, Inc., 596 F. App'x 366, 372 (6th Cir. 2014) (“[W]here there is nothing for the district court to do but execute the judgment, dismissal is appropriate.” (internal quotation marks and citation omitted)).

         In its Renewed Motion to Dismiss, the defendant argues that, because all claims against IBEX asserted in the Complaint are subject to arbitration, dismissal rather than a stay is appropriate. In response, the plaintiff argues that it is within the court's discretion whether to dismiss or stay, under the circumstances presented here, and that a stay is appropriate in this case for two reasons. First, she argues, the United States Supreme Court is likely to issue a decision within the next few months resolving the circuit split on the central question governing the enforceability of the plaintiff's arbitration agreement-that is, whether a collective action waiver in the context of FLSA claims violates the National Labor Relations Act and is, on that basis, unenforceable. And second, the plaintiff asserts that the claims she and the opt-in plaintiffs have raised in this case are related to the claims asserted in two related pending cases: Andrews, et al. v. TRG Customer Solutions, Inc., d/b/a IBEX Global Solutions, No. 1:14-cv-135 (M.D. Tenn.); and Cronk, et al. v. TRG Customer Solutions, Inc., d/b/a IBEX Global Solutions, No. 1:17-cv-59 (M.D. Tenn.). Andrews is stayed pending the collective arbitration of the claims of more than 3, 600 opt-in plaintiffs, while Cronk is pending before this court in a posture virtually identical to that of this case. The plaintiff here argues that this case should be stayed pending arbitration to permit the court to “best exercise [its] management and oversight role over these related cases.” (Doc. No. 81, at 3.)

         The court will exercise its discretion to stay this matter rather than dismiss it pending arbitration, in light of appeals pending before both the Sixth Circuit and the Supreme Court, the resolution of which should definitively resolve the question of whether the waiver of the ability to bring a collective action like the one at issue here is enforceable. Accordingly, that portion of the plaintiff's motion seeking a stay will be granted (Doc. No. 77), and the defendant's Renewed Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 79) will be denied.

         III. Plaintiff's Motion ...


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