United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division
MELISSA RAMSEY, individually and o/b/o similarly situated, Plaintiff,
H&R BLOCK INC., et al., Defendants.
AND OPINION (1) DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO COMPEL
ARBITRATION, (2) GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO STRIKE REPLY OR FOR LEAVE TO FILE
SUR-REPLY, (3) DIRECTING PLAINTIFF TO FILE NOTICE REGARDING
JURY TRIAL REQUEST, (4) SETTING DEADLINE FOR DEFENDANTS'
ANSWER, AND (5) DIRECTING PARTIES TO MEET AND CONFER AND
JOINTLY PROPOSE SCHEDULING ORDER
D. SMITH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SENIOR JUDGE
are Defendants' Motion to Compel Arbitration on an
Individual Basis (Doc. #22), and Plaintiff's Motion to
Disregard/Strike, or in the Alterative, for Leave to File
Sur-Reply (Doc. #30). For the following reasons,
Defendants' motion is denied, and Plaintiff's motion
is granted in part and denied in part.
October 2010 to June 2011, Plaintiff Melissa Ramsey was a
branch manager at H&R Block's Fairway, Kansas
location. In November 2018, Plaintiff filed this
putative class action against Defendants H&R Block, Inc.
and H&R Block Tax Services LLC, alleging Defendants,
along with other entities and persons, “enacted a
scheme related to the recruitment of employees and potential
employees, which included policies and agreements not to
solicit or recruit without prior approval [from] each
other's personnel.” Doc. #1, ¶ 17. According
to Plaintiff, the franchise agreement between Defendants and
their franchisees included a restriction on competition:
“During the term of this agreement, neither Franchisee
nor any of Franchisee's Associates will, without H&R
Block's prior written consent…[s]olicit for
employment any person who is employed by H&R Block or by
any other franchisee of H&R Block.” Id.
¶¶ 18, 36-40. Defendants adhered to the same
agreement in company-owned stores. Id. ¶¶
19, 41. Among other things, Plaintiff alleges the
“purpose and effect of this scheme was to limit and
suppress mobility and compensation for class members.”
Id. ¶¶ 20-21, 66-74. Plaintiff alleges
Defendants violated the Sherman Act.
move to compel arbitration on an individual basis. Doc. #22.
They argue Plaintiff, in 2017, agreed to arbitrate all claims
against Defendants when she applied for a seasonal position
(for which she was not hired) at H&R Block's
corporate offices in Kansas City, Missouri. According to the
Vice President and Secretary for H&R Block Tax Services
LLC, “the mutual arbitration agreement that Plaintiff
signed, ” in relevant part, included the following:
ARBITRATION AGREEMENT. HRB Tax Group, Inc.,
and such other H&R Block business entity for which I am
applying for employment/ assignment or for which I may become
employed, (collectively, “H&R Block”) and I
mutually understand, contract and agree…that any and
all claims and/or disputes, past, present or future, arising
out of or related to my application for employment,
employment, and/or the termination of my employment, shall be
decided by a single arbitrator through arbitration and not by
way of court or jury trial.
* * * *
[T]his Arbitration Agreement applies to any and all claims
that otherwise would be resolved in a court of law or before
a forum other than arbitration under applicable state,
federal or other law, including without limitation, claims
and/or disputes that the Company may have against me or that
I may have against: (1) the Company, (2) the officers,
directors, employees, or agents of the Company, and (3) all
successors and assigns of any of them.
* * * *
Class Action Waiver:
The Company and I agree that all arbitrations shall proceed
on an individual basis. Accordingly, the Company and I agree
and hereby waive any right for any dispute to be heard,
decided or arbitrated as a class and/or collective action and
the arbitrator will have no authority to hear or preside over
any such claim…. To the extent this Class Action
Waiver is determined to be invalid, unenforceable, or void,
any class action must proceed in a court of law and not in
* * * *
THE COMPANY AGREES TO BE BOUND BY THE TERMS SET FORTH
ABOVE. BY CLICKING “SAVE AND CONTINUE” BELOW, YOU
ARE ELECTRONICALLY SIGNING THIS ARBITRATION AGREEMENT. DO NOT
ELECTRONICALLY SIGN UNTIL YOU HAVE CAREFULLY READ THE ABOVE
ARBITRATION AGREEMENT. BY ELECTRONICALLY SIGNING BELOW, YOU
ARE AGREEING THAT YOU HAVE CAREFULLY READ THIS ARBITRATION
AGREEMENT AND ARE VOLUNTARILY GIVING UP YOUR RIGHT TO A COURT
OR JURY TRIAL, AND THAT YOU AND THE COMPANY ARE AGREEING TO
ARBITRATE DISPUTES COVERED BY THIS ARBITRATION AGREEMENT. YOU
ALSO ACKNOWLEDGE AND AGREE THAT YOUR ELECTRONIC SIGNATURE
BELOW IS BINDING LIKE A WRITTEN SIGNATURE IN INK. THIS
APPLICATION CONTAINS A BINDING ARBITRATION AGREEMENT WHICH
MAY BE ENFORCED BY THE PARTIES.
Doc. #23-1 (emphasis in original); Doc. #29-1 (emphasis in
filed her opposition to Defendants' motion to compel
arbitration (Doc. #27), and Defendants filed their reply
(Doc. #28). Plaintiff then moved to strike Defendants'
reply, or in the alternative, allow her ...