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Cicero v. Quality Dining, Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

April 3, 2017

CYNTHIA CICERO, on behalf of herself and similarly situated employees, Plaintiff,
v.
QUALITY DINING, INC., et al., Defendants.

          WINEBRAKE & SANTILLO, LLC By: Peter Winebrake, Esq. R. Andrew Santillo, Esq. Mark J. Gottesfeld, Esq. BARRETT JOHNSTON MARTIN & GARRISON LLC By: Jerry Martin, Esq. Seth Hyatt, Esq. Counsel for Plaintiff

          LITTLER MENDELSON, P.C. By: Rachel Fendell Satinsky, Esq. Holly Elizabeth Rich, Esq. Counsel for Defendants

          OPINION

          NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.

         Plaintiff Cynthia Cicero brings this Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201, et seq. (FLSA), and New Jersey Wage and Hour Law, N.J.S.A. §§ 34:11-56a, et seq., suit challenging her former employer's tip pooling and tip credit policies. Defendants move to dismiss the suit, seeking to enforce the mandatory arbitration agreement and class action waiver Cicero signed.

         For the reasons stated herein, the Motion to Dismiss will be granted, and Plaintiff's later-filed Motion for Conditional Class Certification will be dismissed as moot.

         I.

         Cicero allegedly worked at one of Defendants' Chili's Restaurants in New Jersey until February, 2016. (Amend. Compl. ¶ 10) On May 8, 2013, while employed by Defendants, Cicero undisputedly (at least for purposes of this motion) signed an “Arbitration Agreement”, which states in relevant part,

1. Employee and the Company mutually agree that any and all claims or disputes described in paragraph 2 that Employee may have now or in the future with or against the Company . . . shall be heard and decided by a neutral arbitrator . . . .
2. The disputes and claims covered by this Agreement include all claims or controversies, whether or not arising out of employment or termination of employment, that would constitute a cause of action in court, including but not limited to claims for wages or other compensation due . . . and claims for violation of any federal, state, local or other governmental law, statute, regulation or ordinance (including but not limited to claims, if any, based on . . . the Fair Labor Standards Act . . . and any other federal, state, or local statute, regulation, ordinance, or common law, including without limitation any law related to . . . terms and conditions of employment . . . .
3. The arbitrator's decision shall be final and binding on Employee and the Company. Employee and the Company acknowledge that arbitration is a substitute for traditional litigation and hereby waive their respective rights to file a private lawsuit and have that suit heard in a court by a judge or a jury.
4. . . . Only one Employee may be party to any particular arbitration unless otherwise agreed by the parties. Each arbitration is limited to the claims of the Employee who is a party to that arbitration and shall not include claims pertaining to any other Employee unless otherwise agreed by the parties.

(Firth Decl. ¶ 5 and Ex. A)

         II.

         Defendants do not identify the authority pursuant to which they move for dismissal. The Court construes the application as a Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) motion because Cicero does not dispute that she agreed to arbitrate the claims she asserts in this suit. Guidotti v. Legal Helpers Debt Resolution, L.L.C., 716 F.3d 764, 776 (3d Cir. ...


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