United States District Court, D. New Jersey
Madeline Cox Arleo United States District Judge
MATTER comes before the Court on Plaintiff AT&T
Mobility Services LLC's (“Plaintiff” or
“AT&T”) Motion to Compel Arbitration, ECF No.
3, and Defendant Francesca Jean-Baptiste's
(“Defendant” or “Jean-Baptiste”)
Cross-Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint, ECF No.
11. For the reasons set forth below, AT&T's Motion to
Compel Arbitration is DENIED and
Jean-Baptiste's Cross-Motion to Dismiss is
asks the Court to compel arbitration pursuant to 9 U.S.C.
§ 4 and to stay a pending action in the Superior Court
of New Jersey Law Division, Essex County (the “State
Court Action”), which AT&T alleges was initiated by
Jean-Baptiste in violation of a pre-dispute arbitration
agreement (the “Arbitration Agreement”). The
enforceability of that Arbitration Agreement against
Jean-Baptiste is at the core of the present dispute.
is employed by AT&T as an Assistant Store Manager in
Union, New Jersey. Compl. ¶ 7. On March 18, 2016, she
received an email with the subject heading “Action
Required: Notice Regarding Arbitration Agreement.”
Id. ¶ 9. The email advised Jean-Baptiste that
AT&T had created “an alternative process for
resolving disputes between the company and employees.”
Id. at Ex. 1. This alternative process would use
“independent, third-party arbitration rather than
courts or juries” and, according to AT&T, “is
more informal than a lawsuit in court, and may be
email also informed Jean-Baptiste that her participation in
the arbitration program was optional:
The decision on whether or not to participate is yours to
make. To help you make your decision, it is very
important for you to review the Management Arbitration
Agreement linked to this email. It provides
important information on the process and the types of
disputes that are covered by the Agreement.
Again, the decision is entirely up to you. To give you time
to consider your decision, the company has established a
deadline of no later than 11:59 p.m. Central Standard Time on
Wednesday, May 18, 2016 to opt out - that is, decline to
participate in the arbitration process - using the
If you do not opt out by the deadline, you are agreeing to
the arbitration process as set forth in the Agreement. This
means that you and AT&T are giving up the right to a
court or jury trial on claims covered by the Agreement.
Id. (emphasis original).
other words, AT&T would assume Jean-Baptiste wished to
give up her rights unless she followed their prescribed
“opt out” procedure: (1) open the Arbitration
Agreement attached to the email; (2) click a link in the
Arbitration Agreement to visit a separate website; and (3)
follow the instructions on that separate site to register
Jean-Baptiste's opt out. Id. Whether she wished
to opt out or not, AT&T instructed Jean-Baptiste to click
the “Review Completed” button after reading the
Arbitration Agreement. Id. at Exh. 2.
April 1, 2016 and April 15, 2016, AT&T sent follow-up
emails identical to the first email. Id. ¶ 11.
On April 18, 2016, Jean-Baptiste accessed the text of the
Arbitration Agreement and clicked the “Review
Completed” button. Id. ¶¶ 14-15. On
May 19, 2016, the opt out period expired, and the Arbitration
Agreement allegedly took effect. Id. ¶ 18.