United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Vazquez United States District Judge
MATTER comes before the Court on Defendant Western Refining
GP, LLC's Motion to Compel Arbitration and Stay
Proceedings [Doc. 4]. The Court, having considered the
motions, briefs, and relevant law, and being otherwise fully
informed, finds that the motion is well-taken and will be
Eric Cabezuela began working for Western Refining GP, LLC
("Western") as a truck driver on November 10, 2016.
Doc. 102 ¶ 5. At some point, Western presented Mr.
Cabezuela with a "Mutual Agreement to Arbitrate
Claims" ("Arbitration Agreement"), notifying
him in an undated letter that while he did "not have to
sign this document," if he did "not sign it,"
he would "not work for Western." Doc. 4 Ex. A-2.
The letter advised that Mr. Cabezuela would be "asked to
sign this agreement on [his] first day of employment."
first day of employment, November 10, 2016, Mr. Cabezuela
signed the Arbitration Agreement. Doc. 4 Ex. A-l. The
Arbitration Agreement contains an "Agreement to
Arbitrate" provision, which states in relevant part:
[T]he Company and the Employee hereby consent to the
resolution by arbitration of any and all claims or
controversies for which a court otherwise would be authorized
by law to grant relief in any way arising out of, relating to
or associated with the Employee's employment with the
Company, or its termination ("Claims"), that the
Company may have against the Employee or that the Employee
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 wages or other compensation
due; claims for breach of any contract or covenant, express
or implied; tort claims; claims for discrimination, including
but not limited to discrimination based on race, sex,
religion, national origin, age, marital status, handicap,
disability or medical condition; claims for benefits ...; and
claims for violation of any federal, state, or other
governmental constitution, statute, ordinance or regulation
(as originally enacted or amended)...
Doc. 4 Ex. A-2. The Arbitration Agreement also contains a
"Construction and Enforceability" provision, which
Any issue or dispute concerning the formation, applicability,
interpretation, or enforceability of this Agreement,
including any claim or contention that all or any part of
this Agreement is void or voidable, shall be subject to
arbitration as provided herein. The arbitrator, and not any
federal, state or local court or agency, shall have authority
to decide any such issue or dispute.
terminated Mr. Cabezuela's employment on September 2,
2017. Doc. 1-2 ¶ 25. As a result of his termination, on
October 12, 2018, Mr. Cabezuela commenced the instant action
in New Mexico state court, alleging a violation of the New
Mexico Human Rights Act (Count I), a violation of the
Americans with Disabilities Act (Count II), and wrongful
discharge (Count III). Doc. 1-2. Thereafter, on April 10,
2019, Western removed the action to this Court. Doc. 1.
instant motion, Western asks the Court to compel Mr.
Cabezuela to arbitrate his claims against it and to stay this
action pending arbitration of Mr. Cabezuela's claims.
Plaintiff opposes the motion.
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 may apply to a federal court for a stay of the trial in
an action 'upon any issue referable to arbitration under
an agreement in writing for such arbitration." 9 U.S.C.
§ 3. 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