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Mayhan v. Sunoco, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

January 16, 2020

SUNOCO, INC., Defendant.

          Deborah J. Mayhan, New Castle, Delaware. Pro Se Plaintiff.

          Barry M. Klayman, Abigail M. Green, and Daniel V. Johns, Cozen & O'Connor. Counsel for Defendant.



         Plaintiff Deborah J. Mayhan, who appears pro se and has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis, filed this employment discrimination action on March 6, 2018, against Sunoco, Inc. (D.I. 2). Presently before the Court is Defendant's motion to compel arbitration and stay the proceedings and Plaintiff's opposition. (D.I. 42). The matter has been fully briefed.


         Plaintiff began her employment with Sunoco in early January 2014 as a customer service representative. (D.I. 43-1 at 2). Plaintiff was employed by Sunoco, Inc. (R&M), a subsidiary of Sunoco, Inc. One of Sunoco, Inc. (R&M)'s divisions was Mascot Petroleum Company. (Id. at 2-3). Plaintiffs employment was terminated on or around May 1, 2016. (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that Sunoco did not pay her the wages that it had allegedly agreed to pay, she was denied the right to use her breathing machine, and her employment was terminated for no reason. (D.I. 2 at 4). Plaintiffs EEOC charge of discrimination alleges discrimination by reason of race and disability in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq., and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. (D.I. 17).

         At the beginning of Plaintiffs employment with Sunoco, on January 13, 2014, she signed an agreement (D.I. 43-3) to participate in the Mascot Petroleum Company Dispute Resolution Program ("DRP"). (D.I. 43-2 at 2-19). The DRP establishes a mandatory arbitration process for claims made by current and former employees arising out of their employment or termination of employment. (D.I. 43-3). The DRP "is designed to provide rules and procedures for the quick, fair, accessible and inexpensive resolution of issues between the Company and the Company's present and eligible former employees," and it explains what arbitration is and how an employee initiates and participates in arbitration. (D.I. 43-2 at 11, 12-13). The DRP states that it "is intended to create an exclusive procedural mechanism for the final resolution of all claims falling within its terms," and "is not intended either to abridge or enlarge substantive rights available under applicable law." (Id. at 11).

         Section III of the DRP states that an employee's agreement to arbitrate claims arising out of her employment is an express condition of employment as follows: "Mascot Petroleum Company's DRP is a condition of employment and by accepting employment with Mascot you are knowingly and voluntarily agreeing to its terms, including the requirement that you arbitrate any claims against the Company." (D.I. 43- 3). The agreement provides that "all claims relating to your application or candidacy for employment, your employment, or the termination of your employment from the Company shall be submitted to final and binding arbitration in accordance with the Mascot Dispute Resolution Program (DRP) Rules and Procedures." (Id.).

[The DRP] covers all issues or controversies arising out of your employment or termination" including "[m]atters relating to discrimination, harassment and unlawful forms of retaliation, intentional infliction of emotional distress," and "claims arising under federal, state or local statutory or common law" including but not limited to "Title VII," "the Americans with Disabilities Act" and "any and all claims under. . . state and local laws against discrimination.

(D.I. 43-2 at 4, 11). Similarly, the page Plaintiff signed provides that "[a]ll claims arising under federal, state, or local statutory or common law shall be subject to arbitration including . . . claims arising under Title VII," the ADA, and "state and local laws against discrimination." (D.I. 43-3).

         The DRP provides that "[a]ny legal issue not resolved through [the administrative processes preceding arbitration] must be submitted to final and binding arbitration rather than through the courts or to a jury." (D.I 43-2 at 9). The page that Plaintiff signed states:

I understand that I may file administrative charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and similar state or local agencies, but that upon receipt of right-to-sue letter or my having otherwise exhausted administrative remedies under the law, I shall arbitrate any claim that I may have against Mascot Petroleum Company in accordance with DRP Rules and Procedures rather than proceed through the courts or to a jury.

(D.I. 43-3).

         LEGAL ...

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