United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MICHAEL YOUNG, individually and on behalf of other similarly situated employees, Plaintiff,
GRANITE CONSTRUCTION, INC., and KENNY CONSTRUCTION CO., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
Z. LEE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Michael Young has brought this suit against Defendants
Granite Construction, Inc. (“Granite”) and Kenny
Construction Company (“Kenny), alleging that Defendants
failed to pay overtime wages to him and a putative class of
employees in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 203 et seq. Defendants
have filed a motion to compel Plaintiff to arbitrate his
claims on an individual basis. For the reasons stated herein,
Defendants' motion  is granted. This case is stayed
pending the resolution of arbitration proceedings.
is a “full-service general contractor, construction
management firm[, ] and construction materials
producer.” Compl. ¶ 2, ECF No. 1. In January 2013,
Kenny became a wholly owned subsidiary of Granite.
Id. ¶ 3. Plaintiff worked for Defendants as a
Field Construction/Commissioning Manager from March 2015 to
December 2017. Id. ¶ 19.
the period alleged in this suit, Plaintiff worked as an
hourly employee, and Defendants set his schedule.
Id. ¶¶ 41-42. If he worked fewer than 40
hours in a week, he would be paid only for the hours he
actually worked. Id. ¶ 46. But when Plaintiff
worked more than 40 hours, he alleges, he was not paid
overtime. Id. ¶¶ 5- 6, 54-61.
brought this lawsuit in July 2019, asserting claims under the
FLSA and the New York Labor Law (“NYLL”) on
behalf of himself and a class of workers allegedly subjected
to the same wage practices during the previous three years.
Id. ¶¶ 27, 30. Defendants have moved to
compel arbitration and to stay or dismiss this action pending
the arbitration proceeding. In the alternative, Defendants
ask the Court to strike Plaintiff's jury demand.
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).
are responsible for deciding whether an agreement to
arbitrate exists before ordering arbitration. Janiga v.
Questar Capital Corp., 615 F.3d 735, 741-42 (7th Cir.
2010). Once a court is satisfied that an agreement to
arbitrate exists, the FAA instructs the court to stay the
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 Rule 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.
center of the parties' dispute is a form Plaintiff signed
at the beginning of his employment entitled “Employee
Dispute Resolution Program (EDRP) Agreement Form.”
Defs.' Mem. Supp. Mot. Compel Arbitration, Ex. 1, EDRP
Agreement Form, ECF No. 20-1. In that form (the “EDRP
Agreement”), dated March 23, 2015, Plaintiff agreed to
the following procedure:
Both the Company and I agree that any dispute that may
arise out of my employment must be settled in a manner that
is fair to both of us. Both the Company and I agree that a
consistent set of procedures will ensure fairness and promote
timely resolution. Therefore, both the Company and I agree to
use the methods and procedures contained in the Employee
Dispute Resolution Program Handbook to identify and resolve
any dispute that may arise out of my employment or the
termination of my employment. The Employee Dispute Resolution
Program includes neutral and binding arbitration as a final
step, if necessary. As a result of this agreement, both the
Company and I agree to waive any right to a jury trial.
Id. The EDRP Handbook, incorporated into the
agreement, sets forth four steps (described as
“options”): (1) The Open Door Policy; (2) The
Conference; (3) The Mediation; and (4) The ...