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David Taha v. Tires Plus and Jay Sporn

June 8, 2011

DAVID TAHA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
TIRES PLUS AND JAY SPORN, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kugler, United States District Judge:

NOT FOR PUBLICATION (Doc. No. 4)

OPINION

This is an employment discrimination case. Plaintiff David Taha was employed by Defendant Morgan Tire & Auto, Inc.*fn1 ("MTA") and supervised by Defendant Jay Sporn. Plaintiff claims that Defendants terminated his employment and otherwise discriminated against him because of his physical disability. He asserts claims for disability discrimination under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination ("NJLAD"), N.J. Stat. Ann. § 10:5-1 et seq., and for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Currently before the Court is Defendants' motion to compel Plaintiff to mediate and arbitrate his claims and to stay or dismiss this matter pending mediation and arbitration, (Doc. No. 4). Because the parties executed a binding arbitration agreement that expressly requires Plaintiff to arbitrate disability discrimination claims and claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress arising out of Plaintiff's employment, the Court grants Defendants' motion to compel arbitration pursuant to the parties' agreement and stays this matter pending arbitration.

I.BACKGROUND

MTA operates retail and service centers for automobile tires and equipment. MTA hired Plaintiff on July 9, 2007, as a store manager for its store in West Berlin, New Jersey. Defendant Jay Sporn was Plaintiff's supervisor during his employment. Plaintiff claims that he suffers from chronic degenerative joint condition, which causes him great pain, particularly when he is required to stand for long periods of time. He alleges that Defendants discriminated against him because of his disability by terminating him on February 26, 2010.

On July 13, 2007, in connection with his employment, Plaintiff signed MTA's New Employee Acknowledgement and Agreement ("the Agreement"), which provides:

I understand and agree that any employment-related legal dispute I may have with [MTA] including, but not limited to, any dispute concerning my application for employment, my employment if I am hired, and the termination of my employment if I am hired, must be resolved exclusively through the Company's Employee Dispute Resolution Plan. I therefore understand and agree that I must submit all disputes covered by the EDR Plan to mediation and, if necessary, to final and binding arbitration under the terms of the EDR Plan. I understand and agree that disputes covered by the EDR Plan include, but are not limited to, claims under federal, state or local civil rights statutes, laws, regulations or ordinances and federal, state, or local common law contract and tort claims.

I hereby waive any right that I may have to resolve disputes covered by the EDR Plan through any other means, except as set forth in the EDR Plan, including a court case and/or a jury trial.

I acknowledge that I have had an opportunity to review the booklet containing the EDR Plan, a copy of which I received before signing this Acknowledgement and Agreement. The EDR Plan fully defines the disputes that are covered, describes the procedures for mediation and arbitration, and sets forth the remedies I may obtain.

I understand and acknowledge that my agreement to be bound by the EDR Plan is made in exchange for the Company employing me and the Company's promise to mediate or arbitrate disputes covered by the EDR Plan, as fully described in the EDR Plan.

I also understand that my employment with the Company will be at-will and that this Acknowledgment and Agreement does not affect my at-will employment status.(Aff. of Sharon Smith ("Smith Aff."), Ex. 2).

The EDR Plan provides that it is "the exclusive, final and binding means by which Disputes can be resolved." (Smith Aff., Ex. 1, at 3). The EDR Plan defines "Disputes" to include any "matter arising from or concerning the employment relationship between the Employee and the Company[,] including . . . [c]laims of discrimination or harassment on any basis, including . . . handicap, disability, or any other protected category or characteristic . . . ." (Id. at 2). The EDR Plan also defines "Dispute" to include "[t]ort claims such as defamation, intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress . . . ." (Id. at 3). The EDR Plan requires employees to submit all Disputes to mediation with the American Arbitration Association ("AAA"). If mediation is unsuccessful, the parties may initiate arbitration with the AAA. The EDR Plan provides that an arbitrator may award all remedies and monetary damages "as may be just and reasonable under applicable law." (Id. at 14).

Plaintiff filed the Complaint in the Superior Court of New Jersey asserting a claim under the NJLAD and under common law for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Defendants removed the matter to this Court based on diversity jurisdiction. MTA now moves to compel Plaintiff to mediation and arbitration and to ...


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