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Collins v. Macy's Inc.

United States District Court, D. Arizona

October 15, 2019

Tracee Monique Collins, Plaintiff,
Macy's Incorporated, Defendant.


          G. Murray Snow Chief United States District Judge.

         Pending before the Court is Defendant Macy's Credit and Customer Services, Inc.'s (“Macy's'” or “Defendant's”) Motion to Dismiss and Compel Arbitration. The Motion is granted. Also pending before the Court are Plaintiff Tracee Monique Collins' (“Plaintiff's”) Motion to Submit Supplemental Evidence and Motion to Consider Plaintiff's Rebuttal. The Motion to Supplement is granted and the Motion to Consider Rebuttal is denied.


         Plaintiff was employed as a Macy's Customer Service West Frontline Loyalty Phones Agent from October 2017 to August 2018. In August 2018, Plaintiff's employment was terminated for allegedly violating Macy's attendance policy. On April 19, 2019, Plaintiff filed the underlying complaint alleging that Macy's' attendance system did not accurately and timely update her attendance.[1] (Doc. 1.) Macy's responded with this Motion to Dismiss and Compel Arbitration on July 11, 2019. (Doc. 12.) Macy's argues that Plaintiff agreed to arbitrate all employment-related disputes she might have with Macy's through Macy's' Solutions InSTORE Program because she did not opt out of step four of the Program within 30 days of her hire date.

         Macy's employees are covered by Macy's employment dispute resolution program, Solutions InSTORE, but are given a chance to opt out of step four (arbitration) by completing an election form and mailing it to the appropriate office within 30 days of their hire date. Employees are informed-through a variety of means-that they agree to arbitrate disputes if they do not complete the election form. Macy's alleges that it informed Plaintiff of the Solutions InSTORE program and her ability to opt out in several ways: (1) the Solutions InSTORE New Hire Acknowledgement form (New Hire Acknowledgement Form); (2) the Solutions InSTORE New Hire Brochure (New Hire Brochure); (3) the Solutions InSTORE Step 4-Arbitration opt-out Election Form (Election Form); and (4) the Solutions InSTORE Plan Document (Plan Document).

         Macy's alleges that on October 19, 2017, at the outset of her employment, Plaintiff viewed and electronically signed the New Hire Acknowledgement form, which stated in part: “I understand that if I do not wish to be covered by . . . Arbitration, the only way to notify the Company about my choice is by postmarking my election form within 30 days of hire and mailing it to the Office of Solutions InSTORE.” (Doc. 12 at 7.) Macy's also alleges that Plaintiff was given a copy of the New Hire Brochure at the time she was completing her new hire paperwork. This includes the Election Form and the Plan Document and reiterates that employees must fill out the Election Form to opt-out of arbitration. The Election Form itself then again states that employees will be bound to arbitration if they do not act within 30 days of their hiring date.

         Plaintiff states that she never received the Plan Document and that she did not receive the New Hire Brochure until after she “completed the electronically signed forms as instructed by the HR rep.” (Doc. 15-3 at 1.) Finally, Plaintiff makes conflicting statements about whether she signed the New Hire Acknowledgement Form. In her Objection to Motion to Dismiss and Compel Arbitration, Plaintiff “asserts that she clicked the button with the computer mouse with the intention and good faith acknowledging only that she received the information [contained in the New Hire Acknowledgement], ” and that because Macy's “misrepresented the material elements of the alleged contract” and “Plaintiff did not wish to ‘exclude' herself from ‘coverage' of this ‘benefit, '” Macy's obtained “an alleged electronic signature” without Plaintiff's genuine consent. (Doc. 15 at 2.) She further acknowledges that she “completed the required forms as instructed.” (Doc 15-1 at 2.) Macy's claims (and Plaintiff does not dispute) that these forms included the New Hire Acknowledgement. However, at other points in her Objection, Plaintiff argues that her electronic signature was altered, and that her documents were “manipulated, edited by Macy's” such that they are not legally enforceable. (Doc. 15-3 at 1, 2.)


         I. Legal Standard

         In a motion to dismiss for improper venue pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3), courts must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party and resolve all factual conflicts in favor of the non-moving party. Murphy v. Schneider Nat'l, Inc., 362 F.3d 1133, 1138 (9th Cir. 2004).

         II. Analysis

         On a motion to compel arbitration pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), a district court decides only (1) whether the parties formed a valid agreement to arbitrate, and, if so, (2) whether the agreement to arbitrate encompasses the underlying dispute. Equal Employment Opportunity Comm'n v. Cheesecake Factory, Inc., No. CV08-1207- PHX-NVW, 2009 WL 1259359, at *2 (D. Ariz. May 6, 2009). If the court decides both issues affirmatively, the court must enforce the arbitration agreement in accordance with its terms. Id. The FAA requires courts to construe arbitration agreements under general state law contract principles. Id.

         A. Validity of the Agreement

         Plaintiff's argument against the validity of the arbitration agreement is two-fold. First, Plaintiff argues that her signature on the New Hire Acknowledgement was altered, and thus that she did not enter into a legally binding agreement to arbitrate. Plaintiff then argues that she is not contractually obligated to arbitrate because Macy's misrepresented ...

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