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Echevarria-Hernandez v. Affinitylifestyles.Com, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

March 27, 2017

GRECIA ECHEVARRIA-HERNANDEZ Plaintiff,
v.
AFFINITYLIFESTYLES.COM, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER

          Gloria M. Navarro, Chief Judge United States District Court.

         Pending before the Court is the Motion to Compel Arbitration, (ECF No. 9), filed by Defendant Affinitylifestyles.com, Inc. (“Defendant”). Plaintiff Grecia Echevarria-Hernandez (“Plaintiff”) filed a response, (ECF No. 15), and Defendant filed a reply, (ECF No. 16). For the reasons set forth herein, the Motion to Compel Arbitration is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case concerns allegations that Defendant, as Plaintiff's employer, discriminated against Plaintiff based on her religion. (Compl., ECF No. 1). Plaintiff began her employment in March 2015 as a “brand ambassador” at the Defendant's Las Vegas office. (Id. ¶ 14). According to Plaintiff, she quickly discovered that Defendant had an “established religious culture among its employees.” (See Id. ¶ 16). Specifically, Plaintiff claims that Defendant required employees to attend Scientology themed self-betterment courses to be eligible for raises. (Id. ¶¶ 18-25). Plaintiff states that she attempted to sit through a course, but felt uncomfortable due to her differing personal religious beliefs and had to leave. (Id. ¶¶ 20, 21). Thereafter, Plaintiff claims her coworkers “began to interact differently with Plaintiff, and the workplace environment became extremely unpleasant.” (Id. ¶ 26). In her Complaint, Plaintiff argues that, despite Defendant's claim that she was terminated due to job performance, her termination actually resulted from her differing religious views. (Id. ¶¶ 53-54). Based on these allegations, the Complaint sets forth claims for: (1) unlawful employment practice under Title VII; (2) disparate treatment under Title VII; (3) hostile work environment under Title VII; (4) retaliation under Title VII; (5) religious discrimination under N.R.S. 613.330; and (6) tortious discharge. (Id. ¶¶ 36-84).

         In the instant Motion, Defendant argues that the Court should compel arbitration of these claims in accordance with the arbitration policy detailed in Plaintiff's Employment Agreement (“the Agreement”). (See Mot. to Compel 6:2-7, ECF No. 9). Defendant asserts that Plaintiff agreed, in a signed writing, to the terms of the Agreement on March 11, 2015. (Id. 2:16-17).

         The arbitration policy in relevant part states:

[T]he parties agree that any controversy, dispute or claim between Company and myself out of and/or involving this Agreement and/or any other aspect of our employment relationship . . . shall first be submitted for resolution by mediation . . . .
If the best efforts of the parties to mediate a resolution of any claim based on Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII Claims) do not result in a settlement of our differences, then . . . the parties shall resolve such dispute . . . by binding arbitration . . . .
[I]f the best efforts of the parties to mediate a resolution do not result in a settlement of our differences, then . . . any claim or dispute out of and/or involving this Agreement and/or any other aspect of our employment relationship not based on Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, including, without limitation, any allegation of (a) wrongful discharge or termination, (b) discrimination or harassment under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, or any other applicable law, or (c) any injury to my physical, emotional, or economic interests (Non-Title VII claims) shall be resolved by binding arbitration pursuant to applicable law.

(Agreement ¶¶ 11-13, Ex. A to Mot. to Compel, ECF No. 9). Because of this arbitration policy, Defendant asserts that this case should be stayed pending arbitration, pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act. (See Mot. to Compel 3:11-13).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Section 2 of the Federal Arbitration Act (the “FAA”) provides that:

A written provision in . . . a contract evidencing a transaction involving commerce to settle by arbitration a controversy thereafter arising out of such contract or transaction . . . 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. “In enacting § 2 of the [FAA], Congress declared a national policy favoring arbitration and withdrew the power of the states to require a judicial forum for the resolution of claims which the contracting parties agreed to resolve by arbitration.” Southland Corp. v. Keating, 465 U.S. 1, 10 (1984). Courts place arbitration agreements “upon the same footing as other ...


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