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Pruteanu v. Team Select Home Care of Missouri, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

November 26, 2019

IRINA PRUTEANU, Plaintiff,
v.
TEAM SELECT HOME CARE OF MISSOURI, INC. and ALGONQUIN NURSES HOME HEALTH CARE I, LLC, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          AUDREY G. FLEISSIG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the separate motions to compel arbitration and stay these proceedings filed by Defendants Team Select Home Care of Missouri, Inc. (“Team Select”) and Algonquin Nurses Home Health Care I, LLC (“Algonquin”). ECF Nos. 36, 56. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant the motions and will stay this case pending arbitration.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Irina Pruteanu brought this action in state court against Team Select and Algonquin, alleging discrimination on the basis of sex and pregnancy, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq., and the Missouri Human Rights Act (“MHRA”), Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.055; and claims under Missouri common law. Thereafter, Team Select removed the action to federal court, and Algonquin filed its consent to removal shortly thereafter.

         On October 2, 2018, Plaintiff filed a motion to remand, arguing that Team Select's notice made no reference to Algonquin's consent in its filing. The Court denied the motion to remand because Algonquin's consent was timely filed. Then, on October 4, 2018, Team Select filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that Plaintiff's MHRA claim was untimely, that Plaintiff failed to sufficiently plead the two Missouri common law claims, and that Plaintiff failed to state a Title VII claim for sex and pregnancy discrimination. On November 19, 2018, Algonquin filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that it never employed Plaintiff and thus should not be a party to the litigation.

         On February 27, 2019, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's MHRA claim and her Missouri common law claims but concluded that Plaintiff stated a claim for sex and pregnancy discrimination. The Court also denied Defendant Algonquin's motion for summary judgment because there remained issues of fact with regard to the entity that actually employed Plaintiff.

         Thereafter, the Court set the matter for a Rule 16 Conference. However, before it took place, Team Select made a written demand for arbitration on Plaintiff. On March 20, 2019, Plaintiff rejected Team Select's demand, resulting in this motion to compel arbitration. The Court cancelled the Rule 16 Conference, to be reset upon the resolution of the motion.

         In its motion to compel arbitration, Team Select argues that at the time Plaintiff filed her lawsuit, she was a party to an enforceable Employment Arbitration Agreement (“Arbitration Agreement”), requiring her to arbitrate all covered employment-related disputes, including her Title VII claims in this case.

         Algonquin did not file a separate motion to compel arbitration or join Team Select's motion. Accordingly, on October 21, 2019, the Court issued an order directing Team Select and Algonquin to file supplemental briefing addressing the effect of any Court order compelling arbitration on Plaintiff's pending claims against Algonquin. In response, Algonquin filed a separate motion to compel arbitration “to the extent Plaintiff considers Algonquin to be her employer” and incorporating the arguments advanced by Team Select in its motion to compel arbitration and related filings. ECF No. 56.

         The Arbitration Agreement at issue in this case provides as follows:

I, Irina Pruteanu (hereinafter “Employee”) hereby agree as follows:
As a part of the consideration for Employee's employment by Team Select Home Care (including its affiliates, subsidiaries, successors, assigns, partners, and joint ventures) (hereinafter collectively “Employer”) . . . Employer and Employee agree to the following:
1. In the event of any dispute arising under or involving any provision of this Employment Arbitration Agreement or any claim or dispute relating to or arising from Employee's employment with Employer, including, but not limited to: . . . (II) Any and all claims for violation of any federal, state or municipal statute, including, but not limited to, Title VII of the Civil rights Act of 1964, as amended, the Civil Rights Act of 1991 . . . (IV) Any and all claims or disputes arising out of any other laws and/or regulations relating to or arising from Employee's employment; . . . Employee and Employer agree to submit any such claim or dispute to binding arbitration in the county in which the office resides. . . .

ECF No. 37-1. The Arbitration Agreement further provides that it is governed by the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) and, on the last page of the Arbitration Agreement, there is a signature line for the employee, as well as a line on which the employee must print her name. The printed name is listed as “Irina Pruteanu, ” and on the signature line, there appears a stamp that Plaintiff “DocuSigned” the agreement on March 7, 2017. The DocuSign stamp inserts what appears to be a handwritten signature.

         Immediately above the employee signature line appears the following:

Employer:
Team Select Home Care Michael Lovell, President ...

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