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Williams v. Tesla, Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

December 11, 2018

ADAM WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
TESLA, INC.; TESLA MOTOR, INC.; TESLA, INC. d/b/a TESLA MOTORS, INC.; Defendants.

          OPINION

          JOSEPH H. RODRIGUEZ U.S.D.J.

         This matter is before the Court on motion of Defendant Tesla, Inc. for an Order to compel arbitration of Plaintiff Adam Williams' claims pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. § 1 and to dismiss Plaintiffs Complaint. Having considered the parties' submissions, the Court decides this matter without oral argument pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78. For the reasons stated below, this Court grants Defendant's motion to compel arbitration and dismiss the Complaint.

         Background

         The Complaint alleges that Plaintiff worked for Defendant for approximately six years, during which time he became aware of allegedly “illegal and/or fraudulent” business practices, which he reported on several occasions to his supervisors. See Compl. ¶ 4-8. Plaintiff contends that, as a result, he was demoted twice and then terminated from Defendant's employ in violation of the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (“CEPA”), N.J. Stat. Ann. § 34:19-1.

         Prior to commencing employment with Defendant, as a condition of employment, Plaintiff signed an Arbitration Agreement as part of an offer letter on September 3, 2012. The letter states:

To ensure the rapid and economical resolution of disputes that may arise in connection with your employment with Tesla, you and Tesla agree that any and all disputes, claims, or causes of action, in law or equity, arising from or relating to your employment, or the termination of your employment, will be resolved, to the fullest extent permitted by law by binding arbitration per Attachment A, and that you are waiving your right to a jury trial.

(Ward Decl., Ex. A, p. 2; emphasis in original.) The Arbitration Agreement further provides:

To ensure the rapid and economical resolution of disputes that may arise in connection with your employment with Tesla, you and Tesla agree that any and all disputes, claims, or causes of action, in law or equity, arising from or relating to your employment, or the termination of your employment, will be resolved, to the fullest extent permitted by law by binding arbitration in San Francisco California conducted by the Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services/Endispute, Inc. (“JAMS”), or its successors, under the then current rules of JAMS for employment disputes. Accordingly, you and Tesla agree to an arbitration in which:
a. you are waiving any and all rights to a jury trial but all court remedies will be available in arbitration; and
b. all disputes between you and the Company shall be fully and finally resolved by binding arbitration that provides for adequate discovery; and
c. all disputes shall be resolved by a neutral arbitrator who shall issue a written opinion; and
d. Tesla shall pay all arbitration fees in excess of those which would be required if the dispute was filed in a court of law.

(Id.) By letter to Plaintiff's counsel dated March 14, 2018, Defendant stated its willingness to arbitrate the matter in New Jersey, rather than ...


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