United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
FRENSLEY MAGISTRATE JUDGE
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
WILLIAM L. CAMPBELL, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and
Compel Arbitration. (Doc. No. 9). Plaintiff filed a response
(Doc. No. 15) and Defendant filed a reply (Doc. No. 16). For
the reasons stated below, the motion to compel arbitration is
GRANTED and the case is
STAYED, pending further order of the Court,
and the parties are ordered to participate in arbitration.
Performance of Brentwood operates two automobile dealerships
in Brentwood, Tennessee. (Compl., Doc. No. 1 ¶ 3).
Plaintiff was employed by Defendant from approximately
October 2013 to February 2019 as an Officer Manager and
Assistant Controller performing bookkeeping work and ordering
office supplies. (Id. ¶¶ 4, 5; Bruns
Decl., Doc. No. 9-1 at ¶ 4; Moore Decl., Doc. No. 15-1
at ¶ 5). She was initially paid an hourly rate but began
receiving a salary of $55, 200 per year in 2015. (Compl.,
Doc. No. 1 ¶ 6; Moore Decl., Doc. No. 15-1 ¶ 6).
Plaintiff states that she was required to clock in and out
each day and that she routinely worked 50-70 hours per week
and was not paid any overtime or other compensation for these
signed an arbitration agreement (“2013 Arbitration
Agreement”) when she began working for Defendant in
October 2013. (See Bruns Decl., Doc. No. 9.1 at
¶¶ 5-6; 2013 Arbitration Agreement, Doc. No. 9-1 at
5). On August 27, 2015, Plaintiff signed an Employment
Agreement, which also had an arbitration provision (the
“Arbitration Agreement”) which provided:
Arbitration. Employee and Company agree that any
controversy or claim arising out of or relating, directly or
indirectly, to the Employee's employment, including any
matter which is the subject of the Agreement; the terms and
conditions (including benefits, if any) of Employee's
employment by Company; or the termination of Employee's
employment by Company shall be submitted to and settled by
final and binding arbitration in accordance with
Company's Employment Dispute Arbitration Procedure.
Arbitration of any such dispute must be initiated within 180
days after the dispute first arises. Judgment on any award
rendered by an arbitrator may be entered in any court having
jurisdiction thereof. This paragraph shall not be construed
to require arbitration between the parties prior to filing
suit to obtain an injunction to restrain a violation or
attempted violation of the restrictions set forth in
paragraphs 6 [Hiring and Recruitment of Company Employees]
and 7 [Company's Confidential Information] of this
Attorneys' Fees. In this event of arbitration or
litigation arising out of this Agreement, the prevailing
party shall be entitled to recover its costs and expenses,
including attorneys' fees, from the other party, in
addition to all other relief to which it may be entitled.
This paragraph replaces and supersedes all provision in the
Company's Employment Dispute Arbitration Procedure
concerning costs, expenses and attorneys' fees with
regard to any dispute between the Company and Employee.
Agreement, Doc. No. 9-1 at 14, ¶¶ 8, 11). The
Arbitration Agreement signed in 2015 differs from the 2013
Arbitration Agreement in that it adds the provision that the
prevailing party may recover attorneys' fees and costs
and that the arbitration provision does not apply to certain
claims for injunction relief against Plaintiff. Plaintiff
argues, and Defendant does not dispute, that the Arbitration
Agreement signed in 2015 superseded the 2013 Arbitration
Agreement. (See Pl. Br., Doc. No. 15 at 2; Def.
Reply, Doc. No. 16).
Company's Employment Dispute Arbitration Procedure
referenced in the arbitration clause includes the following
This Procedure may be amended from time to time by the
Company, as may be necessary or appropriate to give effect to
the intent of this Procedure, in light of circumstances which
arise after the date hereof; provided however, that any such
amendment shall apply only to arbitrations initiated after
the date of amendment. Employees shall be informed of
amendments by the Company as soon as practicable after
No. 9-1 at 10).
is 58 years-old. (Moore Decl., Doc. No. 15-1 ¶ 2). She
has a GED and her primary work experience is as a bookkeeper.
(Id.). Plaintiff claims that she was handed the
Employment Agreement while at work and told to sign it.
(Id. ¶ 7). She signed the papers and handed
them back to office personnel at the dealership.
(Id.). Plaintiff said that when she signed the
documents, she understood that the “arbitration
procedure was some type of procedure for addressing
disagreements that might occur while [she] was at work,
” but had “no idea” she was giving up her
right to file a lawsuit in court. (Id. ¶¶
9, 10). In addition, Plaintiff states that she cannot afford
to pay the costs of an arbitration or pay any attorneys'
fees if her claim is unsuccessful. (Id. at
¶¶ 13, 14).
19, 2019, Plaintiff filed this action pursuant to Section
216(b) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”)
alleging that Defendant violated the FLSA when it failed to
pay Plaintiff overtime wages for hours worked over 40 in a
workweek. (Compl., Doc. No. 1). On September 11, 2019,
Defendant moved to compel arbitration and to dismiss the
case. (Doc. No. 9).