United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
W. SIPPEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Jaz'min Franks is a former employee of Defendant
Guckenheimer Enterprises, Inc. According to her complaint,
Franks worked for Guckenheimer as a food prep worker from
January 2, 2018 until April 15, 2018, when she resigned
because she could no longer handle the work environment. In
this lawsuit, Franks alleges Guckenheimer violated the
Missouri Human Rights Act (§ 213 et seq RSMo.)
by constructively discharging her and maintaining a hostile
work environment on the bases of retaliation, race, and
has moved to dismiss or stay this case for arbitration based
on a dispute resolution agreement (“Arbitration
Agreement”) Franks signed on December 19, 2017. [ECF
No. 7-1] The Arbitration Agreement contains mutual promises
between the parties to submit any disputes that otherwise
would be resolved by a court of law to final and binding
arbitration. The agreement is governed by the Federal
Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. § 1 et seq, and
specifically applies to disputes arising under federal and
state employment statutes.
opposes sending the matter to arbitration on the ground that
she does not have a valid arbitration agreement with
Guckenheimer. She argues that the Arbitration Agreement does
not indicate that Guckenheimer also intended to be bound by
it, and that no representative of Guckenheimer signed the
agreement. I find that the circumstances by which Franks
entered into the Arbitration Agreement, and the terms of the
agreement itself, clearly demonstrate that both parties
intended to be bound.
essential elements of a valid contract include offer,
acceptance, and bargained for consideration.”
Johnson v. McDonnell Douglas Corp., 1');">745 S.W.2d 661,
662 (Mo. 1988). “Offer and acceptance requires that the
minds of the contracting parties meet upon and assent to the
same thing in the same sense at the same time.”
Baier v. Darden Restaurants, 420 S.W.3d 733, 740-41
(Mo.Ct.App. 2014) (emphasis and internal citations omitted).
Here, Guckenheimer offered the Arbitration Agreement to
Franks as a part of her employment offer. The agreement
contains bargained-for consideration; it provides that both
Franks and Guckenheimer agree to submit all issues arising
from Franks's employment to arbitration. Franks had the
ability opt out of the Arbitration Agreement without
affecting her underlying employment offer. Franks chose to
accept the agreement, as indicated by her digital signature
at the bottom of it.
notes that Guckenheimer did not also sign the Arbitration
Agreement. However, the absence of Guckenheimer's
signature at the bottom of the Arbitration Agreement is not
conclusive evidence the company did not intend to be bound by
the contract. In Missouri, “a signature is not the only
way to establish acceptance of the proposed terms of a
bilateral contract.” Baier, 420 S.W.3d at 738.
“Other evidence” can also “establish [a
party's] assent to abide by the terms of the
agreement.” Id. In this case, the text of the
employment agreement as well as the Arbitration Agreement
make clear that that the Arbitration Agreement binds both
parties, and that Guckenheimer intended to be bound by it.
Guckenheimer digitally signed the employment agreement that
Guckenheimer offered Franks. That agreement lists, as a
condition of employment, that Franks must “review the
enclosed Dispute Resolution Agreement, which provides that
unless you timely opt out of arbitration . . . all
disputes related to your employment . . . will be resolved
through binding arbitration.” [ECF No. 7-1, p. 2]
Second, the Arbitration Agreement contains numerous mutual
promises binding Guckenheimer, including the following:
“nothing contained in this Agreement shall be construed
to prevent or excuse Employee or the Company from utilizing
the Company's existing internal procedures for resolution
of complaints” [Id.]; “this agreement
also applies, without limitation, to disputes regarding the
employment relationship, trade secrets, unfair
competition . . .” [Id.]; and
“[t]he party bringing the claim must demand arbitration
in writing and deliver the written demand . . . to the other
party.” [Id. at p. 3].
clear in this case that Guckenheimer offered Franks
employment, including a separate Arbitration Agreement, that
Franks accepted the dispute resolution agreement, that the
dispute resolution agreement was supported by bargained-for
consideration, and that both parties intended to be bound by
the agreement. The Arbitration Agreement is binding on
Franks, and she must submit her claims to arbitration.
of the Arbitration Agreement, Guckenheimer asks that I
dismiss this case, or stay it in the alternative. While
district courts may sometimes exercise their discretion and
dismiss cases governed by a valid arbitration clause,
“[t]he FAA generally requires a federal district court
to stay an action pending an arbitration, rather than to
dismiss it.” Green v. SuperShuttle Intern.,
Inc., 653 F.3d 766, 769 (8th Cir. 2011) (citing 9 U.S.C.
§ 3). I will stay this case.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant
Guckenheimer's motion to stay this case and compel
arbitration  is GRANTED.
IS FURTHER ORDERED that this case is stayed until
the binding arbitration process is completed. The parties
shall notify the Court of the completion of the arbitration
process or any other development which would affect the stay
of this matter.
IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of Court shall