Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Fourth Division
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF JACKSON COUNTY The Honorable
Justine E. Del Muro, Judge
Karen King Mitchell, Chief Judge, Presiding Lisa White
Hardwick and Thomas N. Chapman, Judges
WHITE HARDWICK, JUDGE
Warner Cable ("TWC") appeals the circuit court's
denial of its motion to compel arbitration of claims brought
by Greer Cooper-Dorsey, a former TWC employee. TWC contends
the court erred in denying the motion to compel because the
arbitration contract between the parties contained a
delegation provision that required questions of arbitrability
to be submitted to an arbitrator. Alternatively, TWC argues
that the circuit court erred in determining that there was
not a valid arbitration agreement between the parties. For
reasons explained herein, we reverse the denial of the motion
to compel arbitration and remand for proceedings consistent
with this opinion.
and Procedural History
filed a petition in the Jackson County Circuit Court against
TWC and three TWC supervisors alleging work-related claims of
age discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in violation
of the Missouri Human Rights Act ("MHRA"). TWC
subsequently filed a motion to compel arbitration asserting
that the onboarding forms provided to Cooper-Dorsey at the
beginning of her direct employment contained an agreement
requiring that this dispute be submitted to final and binding
onboarding form entitled "Mutual Agreement to
Arbitrate" stated, inter alia:
that any and all claims, disputes, and/or controversies
between you and TWC arising from or related to your
employment with TWC shall be submitted exclusively to and
determined exclusively by binding arbitration before a single
Judicial Arbitration and Mediations Services, Inc.
("JAMS") arbitrator under the Federal Arbitration
Act, 9 U.S.C. § 1 et seq. ("FAA").
form also stated:
You and TWC further agree that all arbitration proceedings
shall be conducted in accordance with the JAMS Employment
Arbitration Rules & Procedures [('JAMS rules")]
and JAMS Policy on Employment Arbitration Minimum Standards
of Procedural Fairness . . . [p]lease read the JAMS rules
carefully before electronically signing this
JAMS rules were not set forth in the onboarding document, but
the form included a hyperlink to the JAMS website.
receiving Cooper-Dorsey's suggestions in opposition to
TWC's motion to compel arbitration, but before allowing
TWC to file a reply, the circuit court summarily denied
TWC's motion. TWC appeals.
the circuit court properly granted or denied a motion to
compel arbitration is a question of law that we review de
novo. Ellis v. JF Enters., LLC, 482 S.W.3d 417, 419 (Mo.
Point I, TWC asserts that the circuit court erred in denying
its motion to compel arbitration because the agreement to
arbitrate between the parties contained a delegation
provision that required questions of arbitrability to be
submitted to an arbitrator. In response, Cooper-Dorsey
contends: (1) the agreement to arbitrate did not properly
incorporate a delegation provision; (2) TWC did not
adequately demonstrate that the two parties had executed the
agreement to delegate threshold questions to the arbitrator;
and (3) the delegation provision is unconscionable.
The Federal Arbitration Act
enforceability of arbitration agreements in all contracts
involving interstate commerce is governed by the Federal
Arbitration Act ("FAA"). State el rel. Hewitt v.
Kerr, 461 S.W.3d 798, 805 (Mo. banc 2015). Cooper-Dorsey
does not dispute TWC's contention that the employment
contract between the parties involves interstate commerce;
hence, we will apply the provisions of the FAA in
interpreting the arbitration agreement.
FAA reflects the fundamental principle that arbitration is a
matter of contract." Rent-A-Ctr., West, Inc. v.
Jackson, 561 U.S. 63, 67 (2010). Section 2 of the act
provides, in pertinent part:
A written provision in any maritime transaction or a contract
evidencing a transaction involving commerce to settle by
arbitration a controversy thereafter arising out of such
contract or transaction . . . shall be valid, irrevocable,
and enforceable, save upon such ...