United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
ORDER COMPELLING ARBITRATION AND STAYING
WILLIAM F. JUNG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
due consideration of the Defendants' joint motion to
compel arbitration (Dkt. 16), the supporting declaration and
exhibit (Dkt. 17), the response in opposition (Dkt. 20), and
the entire file, the Court grants the motion.
September 2019, before this lawsuit was filed,
Plaintiff's employer Citrus Specialty Group, Inc.
(“Citrus Specialty”) filed an arbitration
proceeding against her in connection with her early
resignation. Dkt. 17-1 ¶ 7. Plaintiff then filed this
action, also in September 2019, for interference and
retaliation under the Family Medical Leave Act of
(“FLMA”) against Citrus Specialty as well as HCA
Physician Services, Inc. (“HPS”) and Citrus
Memorial Hospital, Inc. (“Citrus Hospital”). Dkt.
1. She later amended the complaint to add claims under Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act (“Title VII”) for sex
discrimination, the Americans with Disabilities Act
(“ADA”) for discrimination and denial of
reasonable accommodation, and the Florida Civil Rights Act
(“FCRA”) for sex and handicap discrimination and
denial of reasonable accommodation. Dkt. 15. Neither
complaint alleges a basis for suing HPS and Citrus Hospital
as employers. As pointed out by Defendants' counsel,
however, a joint employer liability theory is presumed. Dkt.
16 at 2. See also Dkt. 15 ¶¶ 4, 5, 15
(“Plaintiff worked in Citrus County for Defendants.
Defendants operate a hospital in Citrus County,
outset of Plaintiff's employment, she and Citrus
Specialty entered into a Physician Employment Agreement
(“employment agreement”), which contains the
following arbitration provision in pertinent part:
Except as to the provisions contained in [the sections
pertaining to the disclosure of information and the covenant
not to compete] . . . any controversy or claim arising out of
or related to this Agreement, or any breach thereof, shall be
settled by arbitration . . . . [T]he Parties hereby jointly
and severally waive any and all right to trial by jury in any
action or proceedings arising out of or relating to this
Agreement or obligation hereunder.
Dkt. 17-1 ¶ 13.F. The governing law according to the
employment agreement is “the state in which the
Practice is located.” Dkt. 17-1 ¶ 13.E.
Plaintiff's practice was in Citrus County, Florida. Dkt.
15 ¶¶ 4 & 15.
strong policy exists in favor of resolving disputes by
arbitration. Moses H. Cone Mem'l Hosp. v. Mercury
Constr. Corp., 460 U.S. 1, 24-25 (1983). In deciding
whether to compel arbitration, the court must consider:
“1) whether a valid written agreement to arbitrate
exists; 2) whether an arbitrable issue exists; and 3) whether
the right to arbitrate has been waived.” Williams
v. Eddie Acardi Motor Co., No. 3:07-cv-782-J-32JRK, 2008
WL 686222, at *4 (M.D. Fla. Mar. 10, 2008) (citations
omitted). “[I]n determining whether a binding agreement
arose between the parties, courts apply the contract law of
the particular state that governs the formation of the
contracts.” Dasher v. RBC Bank (USA), 882 F.3d
1017, 1023 (11th Cir. 2018) (alteration in original) (citing
Dasher v. RBC Bank (USA), 745 F.3d 1111, 1116 (11th
Cir. 2014), which quotes First Options of Chicago Inc. v.
Kaplan, 514 U.S. 938, 944 (1995)). If the agreement is
valid, “any doubts concerning the scope of arbitrable
issues-that is, doubts over whether an issue falls within the
ambit of what the parties agreed to arbitrate-should be
resolved in favor of the arbitration.” Jpay, Inc.
v. Kobel, 904 F.3d 923, 929 (11th Cir. 2018) (quoting
Moses H. Cone Mem'l Hosp., 460 U.S. at 24-25)
(internal quotation marks omitted).
agreement to arbitrate is valid. By the plain terms of the
employment agreement, the governing law is Florida because
the Plaintiff's medical practice was in Florida. The
parties do not appear to dispute either the governing law or
the agreement's validity. Dkt. 20 at 2 (“Plaintiff
does not dispute that she entered into an arbitration
agreement with Defendant.”).
of Arbitrable Claims
next question, which is contested, is whether FLMA, Title
VII, ADA, and FCRA claims are arbitrable under the contract
terms. Plaintiff contends that her claims do not
“aris[e] out of or relate to” the employment
agreement because she has not alleged a breach of contract,
i.e., “any breach thereof.” Dkt. 20 at 3-4. As
independent of the employment agreement, Plaintiff argues,
the statutory claims are not based on, and therefore do not
arise out of or relate to, the Defendants' performance of
to Plaintiff's assertions, however, the arbitration
clause in the employment agreement clearly governs the issues
raised in all the claims. The Eleventh Circuit held that for
arbitration clauses, the terms “arising out of”
and “related to” are broad, but limit arbitration
to issues that have a “direct relationship the dispute
and the performance of duties specified by the
contract.” Doe v. Princess Cruise Lines, Ltd.,
657 F.3d 1204, 1218-19 (11th Cir. 2011). In Doe, the
Court held the claims that were “dependent on her
status as a seaman employed by the cruise line and the rights
that she derives from that employment ...