United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Z. LEE United States District Judge.
Warren (“Warren”), a pro se plaintiff,
filed this suit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., as well as 42
U.S.C. § 1981, alleging that Defendant Meijer
(“Meijer”) discriminated against him based on his
race, failed to stop harassment against him, and retaliated
against him for asserting protected rights. Meijer has moved
to compel arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act, 9
U.S.C. § 1 et seq. For the reasons that follow,
Meijer's motion  is denied. Warren's motion for
attorney representation  is also denied.
case arises from Warren's work as a Customer Service Line
Lead at a Meijer store in Rolling Meadows, Illinois.
Pl.'s Resp. Mot. Compel Arb., Ex. 2, ECF No. 20. Before
Warren began work, he received a letter dated May 28, 2014,
that summarized Meijer's offer of employment.
Id. The letter stated in part that “[e]xcept
as expressly modified by the terms of this letter, your
employment is subject to all Meijer policies, procedures,
work rules and guidelines, which are incorporated by
reference into this letter.” Id. Meijer has
approximately 146 different policies. Def.'s Reply Supp.
Mot. Compel Arb., Ex. 3, ECF No. 22-4. One such policy, which
was in force at the time Warren was hired, is Meijer's
Dispute Resolution Policy. Def.'s Mem. Supp. Mot. Compel
Arb., Ex. A-2, ECF No. 12-1. The policy mandates arbitration
for “all claims that arise out of or relate to the team
member's employment and/or separation from employment
with Meijer and that concern legally protected rights for
which a court or governmental agency would be authorized by
law to grant relief, ” including “claims of
unlawful retaliation” and “claims of employment
discrimination . . ., including, but not limited to, claims
based on race.” Id. at 6. Warren does not
dispute that his claims fall within the scope of this
offer letter requested that Warren “[p]lease print two
copies of this letter-one for your records and one to sign
and send back to Meijer. Please scan the signed copy to my
attention at [a Meijer recruiter's email address].”
Pl.'s Resp., Ex. 2. At the bottom of the letter, there is
a line that reads “Acceptance of terms and
conditions” and then states “I accept the terms
and conditions stated above and agree to be bound by
them.” Id. A signature line follows.
Id. The Court obtained a copy of this letter by way
of Warren's response to Meijer's motion to compel
arbitration. The signature line is not filled out and there
is no evidence in the record that Warren signed and submitted
accepted Meijer's offer of employment and began work
shortly thereafter. Warren asserts that he began work on June
9, 2014, the date specified in his offer letter. Id.
In its initial memorandum, Meijer asserted that Warren began
work on June 20, 2014. Def.'s Mem. at 2, ECF No. 12. In
its reply, however, Meijer concedes that Meijer's offer
letter indicates that his first day was to be June 9.
Def.'s Reply at 2-3, ECF No. 22.
claims that, after he began work, Warren entered into a
separate agreement to arbitrate disputes he might have
against Meijer. As evidence of this agreement, Meijer offers
the affidavit of Jennifer Ganz, a Retail Administrative
Assistant at the Meijer store in Rolling Meadows. Def.'s
Reply, Ganz Decl. ¶ 2, ECF No. 22-1. Ganz avers that, as
part of Meijer's typical orientation procedures, Warren
assented to the agreement on June 20, 2014. Id.
¶ 3. On that day, according to the affidavit, Ganz gave
Warren a hard copy of Meijer's Dispute Resolution Policy,
along with a number of other policies and documents, and
asked Warren to review them. Id. ¶ 4. After
doing so, she instructed Warren to access the company's
intranet site, which required him to set up personal security
questions. Id. ¶ 7. When Warren finished
creating his personal security questions, Ganz directed
Warren to a page that contained links to the various policies
he had reviewed in hard copy, including the Dispute
Resolution Policy. Id. ¶ 8; see
Pl.'s Mem., Ex. A-3, ECF No. 12-1. Next to the links to
the policies are boxes that invited Warren to “click to
agree.” Ganz Decl. ¶ 8; see Pl.'s
Mem., Ex. A-3. Meijer submitted a screenshot of an intranet
site page bearing Warren's name that indicates acceptance
of the Dispute Resolution Policy and corresponding agreement.
Pl.'s Mem., Ex. A-3. The screenshot further indicates
acceptance of a number of additional policies and time stamps
for when acceptance was recorded. Id.
recalls that Warren clicked to accept these policies,
including the Dispute Resolution Policy, after electing not
to review the policies because he had just reviewed them in
hard copy. Ganz Decl. ¶¶ 8-9. She also notes that
Warren completed an I-9 employment form and filled out direct
deposit information. Id. ¶¶ 10-11. Ganz
attests that “[n]one of this could [have] be[en]
complete[d] without Mr. Warren's cooperation.”
Id. ¶ 11.
for his part, denies that Ganz gave him a copy of the Dispute
Resolution Policy and denies that he ever “saw, read,
clicked or otherwise agreed to [it].” Pl.'s Resp.
at 1-2; id., Ex. 1. He recalls meeting with Ganz and
filling out a form regarding whether he had been convicted of
a felony, after which he was instructed to “finish
[his] training, ” but states that he was “never
offered, nor did he participate[, ] in any
orientation.” Id. at 1-2. His theory is that,
because his purported acceptance of the agreement occurred
over a week after his employment began, “someone . . .
dropped the ball and did not put Plaintiff through
orientation.” Id. at 3. He surmises that,
based on the time stamps recording his purported acceptance
of various Meijer policies-some of which are mere seconds
apart-someone “[l]ogged into the program and very
quickly clicked through all of the documents.”
Motion to Compel Arbitration
Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) mandates that courts enforce
valid, written arbitration agreements. Tinder v.
Pinkerton Sec., 305 F.3d 728, 733 (7th Cir. 2002)
(citing 9 U.S.C. § 2). This mandate reflects a federal
policy that favors arbitration and “places arbitration
agreements on equal footing with all other contracts.”
Buckeye Check Cashing, Inc. v. Cardegna, 546 U.S.
440, 443 (2006). Once a court is satisfied that an agreement
to arbitrate exists, the FAA instructs the court to stay
proceedings on issues subject to arbitration and provides a
mechanism for parties to request that the court compel
arbitration pursuant to the agreement. 9 U.S.C. §§
3-4; see also Tinder, 305 F.3d at 733.
opposing a motion to compel arbitration bears the burden of
identifying a triable issue of fact as to the existence of
the purported arbitration agreement. Tinder, 305
F.3d at 735. The opponent's evidentiary burden is akin to
that of a party opposing summary judgment under Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 56. Id. “[A] party cannot
avoid compelled arbitration by generally denying the facts
upon which the right to arbitration rests; the party must
identify specific evidence in the record demonstrating a
material factual dispute for trial.” Id. The
Court must believe the evidence of the party opposing
arbitration and draw all justifiable inferences in its favor.
Id. If the party opposing arbitration identifies a
genuine issue of fact as to whether an arbitration agreement
was formed, “the court shall proceed summarily to the
trial thereof.” 9 U.S.C. § 4; see Tinder,
305 F.3d at 735.
opposing arbitration, Warren argues that he never entered
into an arbitration agreement with Meijer. In determining
whether an agreement to arbitrate exists, the Court applies
state contract law. Janiga v. Questar Capital Corp.,
615 F.3d 735, 742 (7th Cir. 2010). The parties do not contend
that any law other than that of Illinois should ...