MEMORANDUM AND ORDER RE: DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION
Plaintiffs Christopher Steele and Brendan Leveron bring this action on behalf of themselves and proposed class members against American Mortgage Management Services, LLC, dba Pinnacle ("Pinnacle"), and certain Pinnacle employees, alleging violations of federal and California employment law. Pinnacle now submits a motion to compel arbitration and to dismiss plaintiffs' claims.
I. Relevant Facts and Procedural History Pinnacle is a private maintenance company that employs
"several thousand private maintenance workers and service personnel at work sites throughout the United States." (Compl. ¶ 21 (Docket No. 1).) Rich Graf, Eric Schwabe, Anita Vanderveer, Suzanah Harris, and Jennifer Rischman are all management employees of Pinnacle alleged to have control over the wages, hours, or working conditions of Pinnacle's employees. (Id. ¶¶ 22-27.)
Plaintiff Christopher Steele is a Pinnacle maintenance worker who has worked at Pinnacle sites in Roseville, California and Elk Grove, California since 2007. (Id. ¶ 18.) Plaintiff Brendan Leveron is also a Pinnacle maintenance worker that has worked at a Roseville, California site since 2009. (Id. ¶ 19.)
Before entering into employment with Pinnacle, plaintiffs signed an Issue Resolution Agreement ("Agreement") with Pinnacle. (Fulcher Decl. ¶¶ 7-8, Exs. A & B (Docket No. 17).) The cover sheet to the Agreement alerts applicants that "[Pinnacle] has implemented an arbitration procedure to provide quick, fair, final and binding resolution of employment-related legal claims." (Id.)
The Agreement begins by stating in bold type that "[i]f you wish to be considered for employment you must read and sign the following Issue Resolution Agreement." (Id.) If the applicant signed the Agreement and the wished to withdraw consent, the applicant could inform Pinnacle in writing within three days, but by doing so the employee withdrew his application for employment. (Id.)
The Agreement asks the applicant to "recognize that differences possibly may arise between [Pinnacle] and me during my employment" and that "it is in the interest of both [Pinnacle] and me that all disputes be resolved in a manner that is fair, private, expeditious, economical, final, and less burdensome or adversarial than court litigation." (Id.) Both parties must also acknowledge that Pinnacle "has an effective Open Door Policy," that the parties "will try to take advantage of it," but that "not all issues can be resolved using the Open Door Policy." (Id.)
The Agreement goes on to state: I agree that I will settle any and all previously unasserted claims, disputes or controversies arising out of or relating to my application or candidacy for employment, employment, and/or cessation with exclusively of employment
Services, LLC by final and binding before a neutral Arbitrator. By way of example only, such claims include claims under federal, state, and local statutory or common law, such as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended . . . the Americans With Disabilities Act, state and federal anti-discrimination statutes, the law of contract, and law of tort. [Pinnacle] agrees that it will settle any and all previously unasserted claims, disputes or controversies arising out of or relating to my application for candidacy for employment, employment, and/or cessation of employment with you, the claimant, and binding arbitration exclusively by final
American Management arbitration
. . . . By way of example only, such claims include [those listed in the previous paragraph].
I understand that if I do file a lawsuit regarding a dispute arising out of or relating to my application or candidacy for employment, employment, or cessation of employment, [Pinnacle] may use this Agreement in support of its request to the court to stay or dismiss the lawsuit and require me instead to use arbitration. . . .
I further agree that if I commence arbitration, it will be conducted in accordance with the "Issue Resolution Rules." . . .
The Issue Resolution Agreement and the Issue Resolution legal Rules affect advice your before legal signing rights. You may wish Agreement. this Issue Resolution to seek
I have read this Agreement and understand that I should read the Issue Resolution Rules over the next few days.
(Id.). Both the applicant and a Pinnacle business manager signed each Agreement. (Id.)
The Issue Resolution Rules outline the specifics of the arbitration process and include provisions on claims subject to arbitration, cost arrangements, discovery, statute of limitations, remedies, and termination/modification, among others. (Fulcher Decl. ¶ 9, Ex. C. ("IRR").) The Rules are provided to every applicant at the time of their application. (Id. ¶ 9.)
Plaintiffs allege that Pinnacle and its employees required plaintiffs and others similarly situated to work more than forty hours a week without providing timely overtime compensation. (Compl. ¶¶ 32-35.) Their Complaint alleges violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), failure to pay overtime as required under the California Labor Code, failure to pay full wages when due under the California Labor Code, failure to adhere to California record-keeping provisions, unfair business practices under California law, claims under the California Private Attorneys General Act ("PAGA"), retaliation and whistleblowing violations under both California and federal law, and claims for equitable and injunctive relief. (Id. ¶¶ 69-151.) Defendants' attorney sent correspondence to plaintiffs' counsel stating that plaintiffs are bound to arbitrate their claims under the Agreement, but plaintiffs did not withdraw the action. (Fulcher Decl. ¶ 11, Ex. D.)
Defendants now move to compel arbitration for plaintiffs' individual claims, to dismiss the class claims without prejudice, and to dismiss plaintiffs' individual claims or, in the alternative, to stay the proceedings on both ...