United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Central Division
Williams United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on defendants'
unresisted Motion to Compel Arbitration Pursuant to
the Federal Arbitration Act. (Doc. 2). In their motion,
defendants specifically “request that this Court enter
an order staying these proceedings and compelling Plaintiff
to arbitrat[e] her Iowa and federal employment claims against
the Defendants.” (Id., at 8). For the
following reasons, defendants' motion is
filed her amended state court petition on August 8, 2018,
alleging violations of the Iowa Civil Rights Act and the
federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act. (Doc. 5). On
August 20, 2018, defendants timely removed the case to this
Court. (Doc. 1). In her state court petition, plaintiff
alleges that plaintiff's employer and the employer's
agents (collectively, “defendants”) discriminated
against plaintiff based on her age and that plaintiff was
terminated as a result of such discrimination. (Doc. 5 at
of her employment application, plaintiff signed a
“Terms and Conditions of Employment” document,
which contains an arbitration provision providing as follows:
I do agree that if employment dispute arises [sic] while you
[sic] may be employed at Windsor Manor Assisted
Living[, ] you [sic] agree to submit any such dispute
arising out of your [sic] employment or the termination of
your [sic] employment (including, but not limited to, claims
of unlawful termination based on race, gender, age[, ]
national origin, disability, breach of contract[, ] or any
other bias prohibited by law) exclusively to binding
arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C.,
Section 1. . . . This arbitration shall be the exclusive
means of resolving any dispute arising out of your employment
or termination from employment by Windsor Manor Assisted
Living or you [sic], and no other action can be brought
by employees in any court or any forum.
(Doc. 2-2, at 1 (emphasis in original)). The Court
understands that plaintiff is willing to submit her claims to
arbitration, on the condition that the instant case is
stayed. (See Doc. 2, at 8).
Federal Arbitration Act (“the Act”) provides that
“a written provision in . . . 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 grounds as exist at law or in
equity for the revocation of any contract.” 9 U.S.C.
§ 2 (2017). Thus, for the Act to govern an arbitration
agreement in a contract, the contract must affect interstate
commerce. Allied-Bruce Terminix Cos. v. Dobson, 513
U.S. 265, 273-74, 281 (1995). Further, if a contract is
otherwise revocable, the arbitration provision may not
mandate arbitration within the meaning of the Act. See
generally Id. (explaining that states may invalidate
contracts under general contract law principles and
“may invalidate an arbitration clause ‘upon such
grounds as exist at law or in equity for the revocation of
any contract'” (quoting 9 U.S.C. §
party to a contract involving an arbitration agreement
falling within the scope of the Act petitions a court for
enforcement of the arbitration agreement, the court must
order “the parties to proceed to arbitration in
accordance with the terms of the [arbitration]
agreement.” 9 U.S.C. § 4. The court need only
order as such if the court is satisfied that the making of
the arbitration agreement or compliance with the arbitration
agreement are not at issue. Id.
consistent with the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals'
dictate that when reviewing a claim that an arbitration
agreement falls within the scope of the Federal Arbitration
Act, courts should consider: 1) “whether there is a
valid agreement to arbitrate, ” and 2) “whether
the specific dispute at issue falls within the substantive
scope of that agreement.” Larry's United Super,
Inc. v. Werries, 253 F.3d 1083, 1085 (8th Cir. 2001).
When reviewing such claims, courts should bear in mind that
the Act's “provisions manifest a liberal federal
policy favoring arbitration agreements.” Id.
(internal quotation marks omitted) (citing Gilmer v.
Interstate/Johnson Lane Corp., 500 U.S. 20, 25 (1991)).
Finally, when ordering the parties to arbitrate their claims
under the Act, if one or more of the parties moves the Court
to stay pending judicial proceedings, the Court must stay the
trial until the parties have proceeded through the
arbitration process. 9 U.S.C. § 3.
plaintiff does not resist the instant motion, the issues
before the Court are relatively straightforward. Defendants
have brought forth evidence showing that the contract at
issue does affect interstate commerce. (See Doc.
2-3). Neither party argues that the contract is otherwise
revocable, and, for purposes of the instant motion, the Court
will assume that it is not. The Court therefore concludes
that the Act does govern the arbitration clause at issue. As
set forth above, the Court must next consider whether the
parties entered into a valid agreement to arbitrate, and
whether the dispute at issue falls within the substantive
scope of the agreement.