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Miller v. Securitas Security Services USA Inc.

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Third Division

August 27, 2019

HAL MILLER, Appellant,
v.
SECURITAS SECURITY SERVICES USA INC., ET AL., Respondents.

          APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF BOONE COUNTY, MISSOURI THE HONORABLE JODIE C. ASEL, JUDGE

          Before Gary D. Witt, Presiding Judge, Edward R. Ardini, Jr., Judge and Thomas N. Chapman, Judge

          EDWARD R. ARDINI, JR., JUDGE

         Hal Miller appeals a judgment of the Circuit Court of Boone County granting Securitas Security Services USA, Inc.'s ("Securitas") motion to dismiss Miller's claims and compel arbitration. Miller brought this action against Securitas-his former employer-and Kelli Dorsey ("Dorsey")-a Securitas Human Resources Officer-asserting claims of disability discrimination, religious discrimination, and retaliation under the Missouri Human Rights Act ("MHRA"). Securitas moved to dismiss or, in the alternative, stay Miller's claims and compel arbitration. The trial court granted the motion, dismissed Miller's petition with prejudice, and taxed costs against Miller. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         In 2014, Miller was hired by Securitas. On his first day of work, May 13, 2014, Miller was presented with a Dispute Resolution Agreement (the "Agreement"), which provided, in relevant part:

1. Introduction

The Document below is the Company's Dispute Resolution Agreement (the "Agreement"). It is an arbitration agreement under the Federal Arbitration Act. Under the terms set forth below, both you and the Company mutually agree and thus are required to resolve claims either may have against the other by Arbitration instead of in a court of law.

Your agreement to resolve claims under the Agreement is a condition of your employment. This means that by working at Securitas or continuing to work at Securitas you and Securitas agree that the Agreement will apply to all covered legal claims between you and the Company as specified below. . . .

The Agreement does not otherwise affect your substantive rights under the law; it does, however, require that the parties resolve legal disputes in arbitration. Please read the Agreement carefully, and sign the acknowledgment at the bottom. The Agreement applies to your employment whether or not you sign the acknowledgment, which is intended simply to confirm that you have received and read your copy.

2. How This Agreement Applies

This Agreement is governed by the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. § 1 et seq., and evidences a transaction involving commerce. This Agreement applies to any dispute arising out of or related to Employee's employment with Securitas Security Services USA, Inc. or one of its affiliates, subsidiaries or parent companies ("Company") or termination of employment and survives after the employment relationship terminates. Nothing contained in this Agreement shall be construed to prevent or excuse Employee from utilizing the Company's existing internal procedures for resolution of complaint, and this Agreement is not intended to be a substitute for using these procedures.

Except as it otherwise provides, this Agreement is intended to apply to the resolution of disputes that otherwise would be resolved in a court of law or before a forum other than arbitration. It requires all such disputes to be resolved only by an Arbitrator through final and binding arbitration and not by way of court or jury trial. Such disputes include, without limitation, disputes relating to the interpretation or application of this Agreement. It does not, however, include disputes over the enforceability, revocability, or validity of the Agreement, or any portion of the Agreement. Those latter questions will be decided in court.

Except as provided otherwise herein, the Agreement applies to all disputes regarding the employment relationship. This, includes, without limitation, to disputes concerning the following: . . . termination, or harassment and claims arising under the . . . Civil Rights Act of 1964, Americans with Disabilities Act, . . . and state statutes, if any, addressing the same or similar subject matters, and all other statutory and common law claims.

11. The Arbitration Hearing and Award

The parties will arbitrate their dispute before the Arbitrator . . . . A court of competent jurisdiction shall have the authority to enter a judgment upon the award made pursuant to the arbitration. The Arbitrator shall not have the power to commit errors of law or legal reasoning, and where allowed by applicable law of the jurisdiction in which the arbitration is held the award may be vacated or corrected on appeal to a court of competent jurisdiction for any such error.

13. Enforcement of the Agreement

(emphasis in original).

         Miller was also presented with a separate acknowledgment form. That acknowledgment provided in part:

DISPUTE RESOLUTION AGREEMENT ACKNOWLEDGMENT

I have received a copy of the Securitas Security Services USA, Inc. (the "Company") Dispute Resolution Agreement (the "Agreement") and I have read and I understand all of the terms contained in the Agreement. I understand that employment or continued employment at the Company constitutes acceptance of this Agreement and its terms. I further acknowledge that the Company and I are mutually bound by this Agreement and its terms.

         The acknowledgment was signed and dated "5-13-14" by Hal Miller and "Employer Representative" Amy McNulty.

         Miller was assigned to work for Securitas client Maxion Wheels in Sedalia, Missouri. On May 17, 2014, he reported to Maxion Wheels. Miller's last day of employment with Securitas was May 22, 2017.

         On April 9, 2018, Miller filed this action. In his petition, Miller alleged that he underwent heart surgery in 2015 and, following that surgery, he requested his job requirements be modified so that he would not have to walk up stairs. Miller asserted his requested accommodation was granted and that he was able to complete his job requirements.[1] He further alleged that at the time he was hired by Securitas, he "wore his facial hair as a beard," and that after his surgery, Dorsey directed him to shave his beard. Miller alleged that he refused this request for religious reasons, requested a religious accommodation, and, approximately two weeks later, he was terminated. Miller brought three claims pursuant to the MHRA, each directed at both Securitas and Dorsey (collectively, "Defendants"): disability discrimination and harassment, religious discrimination, and retaliation.

         Securitas filed a Motion to Dismiss or in the Alternative Stay Plaintiff's Claims and Compel Arbitration. Attached to the motion were a declaration of Amalia Graham, a Human Resources Manager for Securitas; the Dispute Resolution Agreement; and the Dispute Resolution Agreement Acknowledgment. After briefing, the trial court conducted a hearing on the motion.[2]Thereafter, the trial court issued its Judgment ordering "that Defendants' Motion to Compel Arbitration is sustained." The trial court found that the parties had "a valid and binding agreement to arbitrate" and ordered the parties "to proceed to arbitration under the terms of that agreement." The trial court "further ordered that Defendants' Motion ...


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