Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Gonzalez v. Sterling, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division.

August 22, 2016

CATHERINE GONZALEZ, Plaintiff
v.
STERLING, INC, d/b/a KAY JEWELERS, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM ORDER AND OPINION

          AMY J. ST. EVE United States District Court Judge

         Plaintiff Catherine Gonzalez (“Plaintiff”) moves to forego the preliminary steps and one-year limitations period as required under her arbitration agreement (the “RESOLVE Program”) with Defendant Sterling Jewelers, Inc. d/b/a Kay Jewelers (“Defendant”). Defendant moves in its response to dismiss the case with prejudice in light of Plaintiff’s failure to adhere to the arbitration agreement’s one-year limitations period. For the following reasons, the Court denies Plaintiff’s motion to forego certain elements of the arbitration agreement and grants Defendant’s motion to dismiss the case with prejudice.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Catherine Gonzalez worked for Defendant Sterling Jewelers, Inc. d/b/a Kay Jewelers, Inc. before Defendant terminated her employment. (R. 1-1, Exh. A, Complaint.) Pursuant to her employment, Plaintiff signed an arbitration agreement (the “Agreement”) with Defendant. (R. 15-1, Arbitration Agreement, at 2.) Specifically, Plaintiff agreed to the following, in relevant part:

I . . . hereby agree to utilize the Sterling RESOLVE Program to pursue any pre-employment, employment[, ] or post-employment dispute, claims, or controversy (collectively called “claim”) against Sterling Jewelers, Inc., its predecessors, successors, affiliates, parents, subsidiaries, divisions, related companies, current and former directors, officers, shareholders, representatives, employees, insureds, members[, ] and attorneys (collectively called “Sterling”) regarding any alleged unlawful act regarding my application for employment, employment[, ] or the termination of my employment which could have otherwise been brought before an appropriate court including, but not limited to . . . any public policy, contract, tort[, ] or common law. ***
This Agreement waives the parties rights to obtain any legal or equitable relief (e.g. monetary, injunctive[, ] or reinstatement) through any court, and they also waive their right to commence any court action to the extent that is permissible under law provided that either party may seek equitable relief to preserve the status quo pending final disposition under the RESOLVE Program. ***
The parties agree to follow the multi-step process outlined in the RESOLVE Program, which culminates in the use of arbitration. . . . Unless prohibited by law, a demand to use the RESOLVE Program must be made in writing and must be postmarked or delivered to the RESOLVE Program Administrator no later than one (1) year after the alleged unlawful conduct has occurred. Failure expressly to demand use of RESOLVE, in writing, within that time limitation shall serve as a waiver and release with respect to all such claims. Further, employee and Sterling agree to follow the time periods in the appeal process set forth below:

Party

Time Limit (Time limitations will be strictly enforced)

Sterling

postmarked 30 calendar days from date of receipt of Step 1 claim form to send initial claim review determination.

Employee

30 calendar days from the date of Step 1 claim form determination to request, complete, postmark[, ] and send Step 2 appeal claim form.

Sterling

45 calendar days from date of receipt of Step 2 appeal claim form to notify claimant of the assignment of either the Step 2 review panel or mediation.

Employee

30 calendar days from the date of notice of an unsuccessful Step 2 to request, complete, postmark[, ] and send Step 3 claims appeal form. ***

This Agreement is being made under the provision of the Federal Arbitration Act (9 U.S.C. Section 1-14) and will be construed and governed accordingly. Questions of arbitrability (that is[, ] whether an issue is subject to arbitration under this Agreement) shall be decided by the arbitrator. Likewise, procedural questions which grow out of the dispute and bear on the final disposition are also matters for the arbitrator. However, where a party already has initiated a judicial proceeding, a court may decide procedural questions that grow out of the dispute and bear on the final disposition of the matter (e.g., one (1) year for filing a claim). ***
The parties understand and agree that this Agreement contains adequate consideration, the receipt and sufficiency of which is hereby acknowledged. . . . Employee understands that he/she would not be or remain employed by Sterling absent signing this Agreement. The parties have knowingly, voluntarily[, ] and free from duress or coercion entered into this Agreement.

(R. 15-1 at 1-2.) Significantly, Plaintiff agreed to “utilize the Sterling RESOLVE Program” to arbitrate employment disputes within one year of the alleged unlawful conduct. (Id.) Further, Plaintiff provided a brochure detailing the Agreement and the RESOLVE Program’s three-step process as follows:

         Step 1 - Filing a Complaint:

An employee who believes he/she has been subjected to an unlawful employment action, harassment, or termination must contact the RESOLVE Program Administrator and complete a RESOLVE Program Complaint Form.
The party must specify in the form how he/she has been subjected to an unlawful action and the specific relief sought. Unless prohibited by law, the claim form must be fully completed postmarked and sent to the RESOLVE Program ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.