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Nuzzi v. Aupaircare

January 7, 2008

RE: NANCY NUZZI
v.
AUPAIRCARE, INC. AND FRAN KURZ



CHAMBERS OF JOEL A. PISANO JUDGE CLARKSON S. FISHER FEDERAL BUILDING 402 EAST STATE STREET ROOM 341 TRENTON, NJ 086080 (609) 989-0502

LETTER OPINION

ORIGINAL TO BE FILED WITH THE CLERK OF THE COURT

Dear Parties,

Currently before the Court is Defendants, Aupaircare, Inc. and Fran Kurz's ("Defendants") motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction or in the alternative, compel arbitration. Plaintiff, Nancy Nuzzi ("Plaintiff") opposes the Defendants' motion. For the reasons expressed below, the Defendants' motion is granted.

I. Background

The Defendant, Aupaircare, Inc. ("APC") is a California corporation with its headquarters located in San Francisco, California. APC aims to provide families throughout the country with au pairs to assist in childcare. The corporation is governed by the United States Department of State and must comply with specific guidelines and regulations promulgated by the government. The majority of APC's employees work out of their homes across the country.

The Defendant, Fran Kurz ("Kurz") has been an employee of APC since October 1993 and has served as the Mid-Atlantic Regional Manager since January 2001. As regional manager, Kurz is responsible for a variety of tasks such as developing and maintaining the program within her region, managing the budget, and coordinating the placement and supervision of the au pairs.

In June 2004, APC hired Plaintiff as an independent contractor for the position of Community Coordinator. Plaintiff entered into a contractual agreement with APC, which stated in relevant part:

This Agreement shall be governed and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of California and any claims or disputes disputes arising out of, or related to this Agreement will be determined by binding arbitration upon the petition of either party in San, Francisco, California.

(Def. Brief, Ex. D). In June 2005, Plaintiff became an employee of APC as an Area Director. Plaintiff entered into another employment agreement, which was then renewed in 2006 and 2007. Each of the three agreements she signed contained the above-stated choice of law and arbitration provision.

Plaintiff became pregnant and informed Kurz in September 2006 that she could be taking a maternity leave. Plaintiff began her maternity leave on February 1, 2007 with the intention of returning to work in eight weeks. Shortly before the end of her maternity leave, Plaintiff notified Kurz that she would need an additional four weeks of leave and would return in May 2007. APC, however, terminated Plaintiff's employment on April 4, 2007, due to performance issues.

Plaintiff maintains that Kurz made repeated comments about the difficulties Plaintiff would face in handling her job responsibilities and personal childcare matters and asserts that she was terminated because she became pregnant. Plaintiff admits, however, that she received a letter in November 2006 from Kurz outlining her professional performance deficiencies, but regards APC's justification for her termination as pretextual. Plaintiff subsequently filed the instant lawsuit on May 16, 2007, in the Superior Court of Somerset Count, New Jersey. On August 17, 2007, the Defendants removed the action to this Court.

The Defendants move to dismiss the action or in the alternative, compel arbitration, on the grounds that the choice of law and arbitration provision in the employment agreement are enforceable. In response, Plaintiff argues that this Court has jurisdiction over the Defendants and that venue is proper in this Court because the choice of ...


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