United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
VAZQUEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
MATTER comes before the Court on Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss, Strike Class and Collective Action Claims, and
Compel Arbitration, or, in the Alternative, Stay Proceedings
[Doc. 16]. The Court, having considered the motion, briefs,
and relevant law, and being otherwise fully informed, finds
that the motion is well-taken and will be granted.
Dana Fedor worked for Defendants as a “Care
Coordinator” from in or about November 2013, until on
or about November 25, 2016. Doc. 16-1 at ¶¶ 7-8.
Opt-in Plaintiffs Susan Davis, Donah E. Davison, Juliana J.
Whitesell, Cindy L. Hays, Michelle Rios Rice, Ann E.
Beauchamp, William E. Snyder, and Lisa Anne Salopek also
formerly worked for Defendants as Care Coordinators.
Id. at ¶¶ 9-32. Consistent with
Defendants' policies, along with his or her offer letter,
Defendants provided Plaintiff and Opt-in Plaintiffs with a
copy of Defendants' then-current arbitration policy.
Id. at ¶¶ 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27,
30. Plaintiff and Opt-in Plaintiffs each logged onto
Defendants' PeopleSoft Human Resources Management System
and electronically acknowledged receipt of, and agreement to,
that arbitration policy, by clicking on the “I
accept” button. Id. at ¶ 7, 10, 13, 16,
19, 22, 25, 28, 31.
periodically revise their arbitration policy, and on January
1, 2016, while Plaintiff and Opt-in Plaintiffs were still
employed with Defendants, Defendants “issued” the
most recent version of their arbitration policy (the
“2016 Arbitration Policy”). Id. at
¶¶ 33, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 23, 26, 29, 32, 33. The
2016 Arbitration Policy states that it is a “binding
contract between United Health Group and its employee,
” that “[a]cceptance of employment or
continuation of employment with UnitedHealth Group is deemed
to be acceptance of this Policy, ” and that it
“supersedes any and all prior versions and has been
revised effective January 1, 2016.” Doc. 16-2.
March 28, 2017, Plaintiff commenced the instant action by
filing her First Amended Class and Collective Action
Complaint to recover overtime compensation from Defendants.
Doc. 3. Plaintiff brings collective claims under the Fair
Labor Standards Act and class action claims under New Mexico
law, on behalf of herself and Opt-in Plaintiffs, who have
consented to join the action. Id. at ¶¶
34-35; Docs. 9-15. Arguing that this lawsuit violates the
2016 Arbitration Policy, which requires arbitration of the
claims set forth in the Amended Complaint and which prohibits
collective and class claims, Defendants filed the instant
motion to compel Plaintiff and Opt-in Plaintiffs to
individually arbitrate their claims. Plaintiff opposes the
Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) applies to
arbitration provisions in “a contract evidencing a
transaction involving commerce.” 9 U.S.C. § 2.
Under the FAA, such arbitration provisions “are 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. Section 2 of the FAA
creates “a substantive rule applicable in state as well
as federal courts.” Southland Corp. v.
Keating, 465 U.S. 1, 16 (1984). To implement this
substantive rule, “a party aggrieved by the alleged
failure, neglect, or refusal of another to arbitrate under a
written agreement for arbitration may petition” the
federal district court “for an order directing that
such arbitration proceed in the manner provided for in such
agreement.” 9 U.S.C. § 4. Describing the FAA as
“a liberal federal policy favoring arbitration, ”
the Supreme Court has emphasized “the fundamental
principle that arbitration is a matter of contract, ”
and, accordingly, that “courts must place arbitration
agreements on an equal footing with other contracts . . . and
enforce them according to their terms.” AT&T
Mobility LLC v. Conception, 131 S.Ct. 1740, 1745 (2011).
FAA, however, “was not enacted to force parties to
arbitrate in the absence of an agreement.” Avedon
Eng'g, Inc. v. Seatex, 126 F.3d 1279, 1286 (10th
Cir. 1997). Rather, Congress' concern “was to
enforce private agreements into which parties had
entered.” Id. Accordingly, “[t]he
existence of an agreement to arbitrate is a threshold matter
which must be established before the FAA can be
invoked.” Id. at 1287.
the FAA, Defendants move to compel Plaintiff and Opt-in
Plaintiffs to individually arbitrate the claims alleged in
the Amended Complaint. In support of their motion, Defendants
argue that the 2016 Arbitration Policy is valid and
enforceable against Plaintiff and Opt-in Plaintiffs, that the
claims alleged in the Amended Complaint fall within the scope
of the 2016 Arbitration Policy, and that the 2016 Arbitration
Policy prohibits Plaintiff and Opt-in Plaintiffs from
pursuing class and collective claims. Plaintiff does not
appear to dispute that her claims fall within the scope of
the 2016 Arbitration Policy or that the 2016 Arbitration
Policy prohibits class and collective claims. Plaintiff does,
however, dispute that the 2016 Arbitration Policy is valid
and enforceable as to her and Opt-in Plaintiffs.
Enforceability of the 2016 Arbitration Policy as to
Plaintiff and Opt-in Plaintiffs
argues that the 2016 Arbitration Policy is not enforceable
against her or Opt-in Plaintiffs because there is no evidence
that any of them “signed, read or even knew about this
Policy.” Doc. 38 at 7. Rather, Plaintiff explains, each
of them indicated acceptance only to prior versions
of Defendants' arbitration policy. It is those prior
versions, Plaintiff argues, that are the operative documents
here and, because each of those prior versions lacked valid
consideration under New Mexico law, neither Plaintiff nor
Opt-in Plaintiffs are bound by any valid, enforceable
agreement to submit their claims to arbitration.
is correct that she and Opt-in Plaintiffs electronically
agreed to prior versions of Defendants' arbitration
policies. Specifically, Plaintiff and Opt-in Plaintiffs
Davidson, Whitesell, and Snyder agreed to Defendant's
2012 arbitration policy; Opt-in Plaintiffs Davis and Salopek
agreed to Defendant's 2006 arbitration policy; Opt-in
Plaintiff Beauchamp agreed to Defendant's 2011
arbitration policy; and Opt-in Plaintiffs Hays and Rice
agreed to Defendants' 2015 arbitration policy. Doc. 38 at
4. The Court agrees that, ...