United States District Court, D. Delaware
CHRISTOPHER J. BURKE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
pending in this employment discrimination matter is Defendant
Dollar Tree Stores, Inc.'s ("DTS" or
"Defendant") Motion to Compel Arbitration, (D.I. 4)
(the "Motion to Compel"). For the reasons set forth
below, the Court DENIES the Motion to Compel without
prejudice and ORDERS the parties to proceed through limited
discovery consistent with this opinion.
Debra Andre is a resident of Dover, Delaware. (D.I. 1
at ¶ 1) Defendant Dollar Tree Stores, Inc. is a Virginia
corporation that operates thousands of retail stores across
the nation, in which various retail products are sold.
(Id. at ¶ 2; D.I. 6 at ¶ 3)
was most recently employed by Defendant as Assistant Manager
at Defendant's retail store #1563, which is located in
Dover. (D.I. 1 at ¶ 11; D.I. 5 at 1) Plaintiff was
employed by Defendant from on or about September 2011 until
on or about June 30, 2016, at which point she was terminated.
(D.I. 1 at ¶ 12; D.I. 5 at 1-2)
Events Leading to Plaintiffs Termination
Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that in March 2016, a new Store
Manager, Chris Stewart, was assigned to oversee the DTS store
where Plaintiff served as Assistant Manager. (D.I. 1 at
¶ 14) Approximately two months after Mr. Stewart began
working at Plaintiffs assigned store, Plaintiff received
complaints from female and male employees at the store about
Mr. Stewart; the employees asserted that Mr. Stewart made
sexual remarks about them or about other workers.
(Id. at ¶ 15) Plaintiff then notified (via
e-mail) District Manager Marcella Leathern about the
complaints, but Plaintiff did not receive a response.
(Id. at ¶¶ 16-17)
a week and a half after Plaintiff sent the e-mail to Ms.
Leathern, at a time when Plaintiff was bent over stocking
shelves with another co-worker, Mr. Stewart is alleged to
have grabbed Plaintiffs waist from behind and pulled
Plaintiff into his groin while making sexual remarks.
(Id. at ¶ 18) Plaintiff again e-mailed Ms.
Leathern complaining about Mr. Stewart's conduct, but
once again, Plaintiff did not receive a response from Ms.
Leathern. (Id. at ¶¶ 19-20)
two days later, Plaintiff was in a store office when Mr.
Stewart reached towards Plaintiff and grabbed her buttocks,
at which point Plaintiff forcibly pushed Mr. Stewart away.
(Id. at ¶ 21) Plaintiff once more e-mailed Ms.
Leathern complaining about Mr. Stewart's conduct but did
not receive a response. (Id. at ¶¶ 22-23)
Plaintiff then reported this incident to "numerous Human
Resource personnel." (Id. at ¶ 24)
one week later, Plaintiff was called into work on her day off
to meet with Ms. Leathern regarding Mr. Stewart's
conduct. (Id. at ¶ 26) Ms. Leathern explained
to Plaintiff that if Plaintiff had provided inaccurate facts
to Defendant about Mr. Stewart's conduct, then Plaintiffs
employment would be terminated. (Id. at ¶ 27)
another work day in this general time frame, Plaintiff was
scheduled to work a 5.5 hour shift. (Id. at ¶
31) Plaintiff alleges that during this shift she was notified
by Mr. Stewart that he was going to be late for work.
(Id.) Defendant's policy states that an employee
will be reprimanded if they do not take a lunch break after
six hours of work. (Id. at ¶ 30) Realizing that
because Mr. Stewart was going to be late for work, this would
mean that Plaintiff would be required to work for over six
hours on that day, Plaintiff took a 32-minute lunch break on
that day. (A/, at ¶¶ 29, 31)
30, 2016, Plaintiff was terminated for taking this
"unscheduled lunch break." (D.I. 1 at ¶¶
12, 33; see also D.I. 5 at 2) Plaintiff contends
that this reason proffered by Defendant for her firing (i.e.,
that Plaintiff was fired because she took the unscheduled
lunch break) is pretextual; instead, Plaintiff asserts that
she was really terminated due to discriminatory and
retaliatory conduct on the basis of her sex, stemming from
the incidents described above regarding Mr. Stewart. (D.I. 1
at ¶ 35)
The Arbitration Agreement
the term of Plaintiff s employment, in 2014, Defendant
implemented its Arbitration Program. (D.I. 6 at ¶ 4;
D.I. 5 at 2) Pursuant to the program, each DTS Associate was
required to read the corresponding materials, including the
Mutual Agreement to Arbitrate Claims (hereinafter, the
"Arbitration Agreement"). (D.I. 6 at ¶¶
5-6; id., ex. 3) The Arbitration Agreement provides,
The Parties agree to the resolution by arbitration of all
claims or controversies ("claims"), past, present
or future, that can be raised under applicable federal,
state, or local law, arising out of or related to
Associate's employment (or its termination), that... the
Associate may have against... Dollar Tree .... Claims subject
to arbitration include but are not limited to, claims for: .