United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Z. LEE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Michelle Maro filed this lawsuit in state court against her
former employer, Commuter Advertising, Inc. (“Commuter
Advertising”), after Commuter Advertising terminated
her employment. Maro raises claims of pregnancy
discrimination in violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act,
775 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/1-101 et seq. (Count 1),
retaliation (Count 2), and intentional infliction of
emotional distress (Count 3). Commuter Advertising removed
the action to federal court and then filed a motion to stay
proceedings and compel arbitration pursuant to the Federal
Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. § 1 et seq. For the
reasons provided, the Court grants Commuter
Advertising's motion .
began working for Commuter Advertising as President of Sales
in January 2016. Compl. ¶ 1, ECF No. 1-1. Commuter
Advertising is an Ohio corporation that creates and manages
advertising campaigns in public-transit vehicles in Illinois
and several other states. Id. ¶¶ 2, 8.
October 26, 2015, Maro signed an employment agreement with
Commuter Advertising, which included an arbitration clause:
ARBITRATION. Any dispute arising in connection with
this Agreement or any other dispute, whether or not
employment-related, between Company, or any of its officers,
directors, agents, employees, or any other person affiliated
in any way with Company, and Employee, shall be resolved by
arbitration conducted before a panel of three (3)
arbitrators, exclusively in Dayton, Ohio, in accordance with
the commercial rules of the American Arbitration Association
then in effect. . . .
Def.'s Mot. Compel Arb., Ex. A, Employment Agreement
¶ 25, ECF No. 8.
2016 and early 2017, several incidents occurred that, Maro
alleges, led the company to engage in acts of retaliation and
unlawful discrimination against her. First, Maro informed the
company that the ads of one of its clients were not airing as
often as they should be, a criticism to which the company did
not respond. Compl. ¶¶ 11-16. Maro also reported to
Commuter Advertising's CEO, Russell Gottesman, that
another employee had complained about long hours and other
job-related stress. Id. ¶ 17.
on January 3, 2017, Gottesman denied Maro's request for
Commuter Advertising to pay for her flight from Chicago to
Columbus, Ohio. Id. ¶¶ 18-23. On January
11, Maro informed Gottesman that she was pregnant and that
her pregnancy had been deemed high-risk, to which Gottesman
replied, “are you sure you really want to [have a
baby], Michelle?” Id. ¶¶ 25-26, 32.
On January 27, Gottesman gave Maro a document criticizing her
work performance. Id. ¶ 44.
fired Maro on February 6, 2017. Id. ¶ 47.
Accordingly, on August 31, 2018, Maro filed suit against
Commuter Advertising in the Circuit Court of Cook County,
Illinois, alleging that Commuter Advertising terminated her
employment in retaliation for questioning company practices
and reporting her coworker's complaint, and discriminated
against her based on her high-risk pregnancy. Maro also
alleges that Gottesman's conduct constituted intentional
infliction of emotional distress.
October 10, 2018, Commuter Advertising removed the complaint
to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441. On October
16, Commuter Advertising moved to stay the proceedings and
compel arbitration, contending that Maro's claims fall
within the scope of the arbitration agreement in her
employment contract. Def.'s Mot. Compel Arb., ECF No. 8.
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 places arbitration agreements on equal
footing with all other contracts. Buckeye Check Cashing,
Inc. v. Cardegna, 546 U.S. 440, 443 (2006).
court is satisfied that an agreement to arbitrate exists and
that the claim at issue is arbitrable under the agreement,
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 ...