United States District Court, D. Hawaii
ORDER GRANTING PETITION TO COMPEL
Michael Seabright, Chief United States District Judge.
the court is Petitioner Southern Glazer's Wine and
Spirits, LLC's (“SGWS” or
“Petitioner”) Petition to Compel Arbitration of
Respondent Janet Denyer's (“Denyer”) claims
arising from the termination of her employment with
Petitioner. ECF No. 2. For the reasons discussed below, the
Petition to Compel Arbitration is GRANTED.
began working for Southern Wine & Spirits of America,
Inc. (“SWSA”) on or about March 7, 2016. Denyer Decl.
¶ 8; Kauther Decl. ¶ 3. That same day, as part of
her “onboarding” process, Denyer signed a
“Notice to Prospective Employees”
(“Notice”), ECF No. 15-2, and a “Mutual
Agreement to Arbitrate Claims”
(“Agreement”), ECF No. 2-5. See
Declaration of Lauren Mutti, ECF No. 2-2 ¶ 12; Kauther
Decl. ¶ 9.
signing the Notice, Denyer agreed “to be bound by . . .
arbitration procedures for employer-employee disputes,
” including but not limited to “claims, demands
or actions” for violation of any federal, state or
local law “regarding . . . the termination of
employment[.]” Notice at 1. The Notice specified the
use of the American Arbitration Association arbitration
procedures, “as modified and expanded by the SOUTHERN
Employment Arbitration Policy [(“Policy”)],
” id., and advised Denyer that,
. . . it is your responsibility to read and understand the
arbitration procedures, and your agreement to be bound by
those procedures is a condition of employment.
. . . .
. . . We therefore ask that you read the attached Employment
Arbitration Policy and then sign and return the attached
[Agreement] in order to signify both your acceptance of our
offer of employment and your agreement to the above.
By signing below, you are attesting that you have read and
understood this document, and are knowingly and voluntarily
agreeing to its terms.
Id. at 1-2.
the Agreement, Denyer agreed to arbitrate all disputes
arising from her employment or termination from employment,
as well as disputes with Petitioner that are unrelated to her
employment. See Agreement at 1. More specifically,
the Agreement provides:
The Company and I mutually consent to the resolution by
arbitration of all claims or controversies
(“claims”), past, present, or future, whether or
not arising out of my employment, or its termination, that
the Company may have against me or that I may have against
the Company or against its officers, directors, employees or
agents in their capacity as such or otherwise. The claims
covered by this Agreement include - but are not limited
to - claims for breach of any contract or covenant
(express or implied); tort claims; claims of discrimination
and harassment . . . and any other federal, state or local
statute, regulation, ordinance or common law doctrine,
regarding employment discrimination, conditions of employment
or termination of employment; claims for wages, benefits or
other compensation due; and claims for violation of any
federal, state, or other governmental law, statute,
regulation, or ordinance or common law doctrine[.]”
. . . I knowingly and willingly forego my statutory and
common law remedies, whether state or federal, whether
explicitly mentioned in this Agreement or not, in favor of
submitting any disputes with the Company to arbitration.
Except as otherwise provided in this Agreement or by law,
both the Company and I agree that neither of us shall
initiate or prosecute any lawsuit or administrative action .
. . in any way related to any claim covered by this
I understand that any reference in the Agreement to the
Company will also refer to all subsidiary and affiliated
entities, agents, and all successors and assigns of any of
Id. at 1-2.
And on the signature page (page 4), the Agreement provides:
I ACKNOWLEDGE THAT I HAVE CAREFULLY READ THIS AGREEMENT (AND
THE POLICY INCORPORATED HEREIN) AND THAT I UNDERSTAND AND
AGREE TO BE BOUND BY ITS TERMS. . . .
I UNDERSTAND THAT BY SIGNING THIS AGREEMENT I AM GIVING UP MY
RIGHT TO A JURY TRIAL IN REGARD TO THE TYPES OF CLAIMS
COVERED BY THIS AGREEMENT. . . .
I FURTHER ACKNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTAND THAT PURSUANT TO THIS
AGREEMENT, ARBITRATION OF DISPUTES COVERED BY THIS AGREEMENT
IS MANDATORY AND BINDING.
I FURTHER ACKNOWLEDGE THAT I HAVE BEEN GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY
TO DISCUSS THIS AGREEMENT WITH MY PRIVATE LEGAL COUNSEL AND
HAVE AVAILED MYSELF OF THAT OPPORTUNITY TO THE EXTENT I WISH
TO DO SO.
Id. at 4.
the above, Denyer now asserts that she was unaware “of
the existence of the arbitration agreement” because at
the time she signed the Agreement, she had not received a
copy of the Policy, or the first three pages of the
Agreement. ECF No. 14 at 2-3; Denyer Decl. ¶¶ 3, 4,
response to Denyer's assertion, SGWS provided the
declaration of Jamie Kauther (“Kauther”), Senior
Director, Labor and Employment Counsel for SGWS. Kauther
states that she is familiar with the “business
operations and employment policies and practices of both
[SGWS and SWSA including] . . . the record-keeping practices
of [SWSA] for employee personnel files.” Kauther Decl.
¶¶ 3, 4. She further states that SWSA's
“uniform policy and practice” was to provide
copies of the Notice, Policy, and Agreement to new employees
on their first day of work, and that after review and
signature, the documents were “immediately stored and
maintained in employee personnel files, copies of which were
created and continue to be maintained in the normal course
and scope of business.” Id. ¶ 5. Kauther
has regular access to SWSA's personnel files, including
Denyer's. Id. ¶¶ 6-7. And she states
that her review of Denyer's file, which contains the
Notice, four-page Agreement, and Policy, shows that Denyer
received a complete copy of each document and that she signed
the Notice and Agreement on March 7, 2016. Id.
¶¶ 8, 9.
employment with SGWS ended on or about April 11, 2017, when
she was allegedly wrongfully terminated. ECF No. 2-4 ¶
5. On June 15, 2017, Denyer's counsel sent SGWS a demand
letter and a draft of a Complaint alleging claims of
whistleblower retaliation; violation of wage and hour laws;
hostile work environment; constructive termination;
interference with compensation, terms, conditions, and
privileges of employment; conspiracy, fraud, and retaliation
in violation of employment laws; intentional interference
with the economic ...