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.

Maynard v. Valley Christian Academy, Inc.

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

August 21, 2017

JEANETTE MAYNARD Plaintiff,
v.
VALLEY CHRISTIAN ACADEMY, INC. Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

          KATHLEEN B. BURKE U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Jeanette Maynard (“Maynard” or “Plaintiff”) brought suit against Defendant Valley Christian Academy, Inc. (“Defendant” or “VCA”) for alleged violations of various federal and state labor statutes seeking, inter alia, recovery of unpaid wages.[1] Doc. 6, pp. 8-12.

         Defendant has filed a Motion to Stay Proceedings Pending Mandatory Alternative Dispute Resolution, seeking to compel arbitration pursuant to the terms of Maynard's employment agreement.[2] Doc. 9 (“Motion to Stay”). Maynard's employment contract with VCA includes an arbitration clause that provides for the resolution of disputes by “following the biblical pattern of Matthew 18:15-17, ” and states that any unresolved disputes shall be submitted to “Christian mediation and, if necessary, legal binding arbitration.” Doc. 9-1, p. 3, ¶ 10. The agreement further states, “The parties understand that these methods shall be the sole remedy for any controversy or claim arising out of this agreement and expressly waive their right to file a lawsuit in any civil court against one another for such disputes[.]” Doc. 9-1, p. 3, ¶ 10. Plaintiff challenges the enforceability of the arbitration provision. Doc. 17.

         The Sixth Circuit has instructed that courts are to examine such contractual provisions “in light of the strong federal policy in favor of arbitration.” Stout v. J.D. Byrider, 228 F.3d 709, 714 (6th Cir. 2000). The Court finds that the arbitration clause is valid and should be enforced. Accordingly, the Defendant's Motion to Stay (Doc. 9) is GRANTED.

         II. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         VCA an Ohio non-profit corporation located in Aurora, Portage County, Ohio. Doc. 6, p. 2, ¶ 3. VCA is a private Christian school with a total enrollment of approximately 150-250 students in preschool, elementary, and secondary school programs. Doc 6, p. 3, ¶ 7. Maynard is a resident of Portage County and a former employee of VCA. Doc. 6, pp. 1-2, ¶¶ 1-2.

         VCA employed Maynard as its “Facilities Manager” from April 2005 until July 22, 2016. Doc. 6, p. 4, ¶¶ 16-17. Maynard provided typical janitorial and custodial services and was compensated at an hourly rate while employed at VCA. Doc. 6, p. 4, ¶¶ 18-21. VCA classified Maynard as a “non-exempt” employee for compensation purposes. Doc. 6, p. 4, ¶ 21.

         Maynard alleges that she worked an average of ten and-one-half (10.5) hours per day during the school year while employed at VCA. Doc. 6, p. 4, ¶ 22. Maynard alleges that VCA instructed her to record her first eight hours worked on her timesheet and then separately record two additional hours as “comp time” and that she was prohibited from recording the additional half hour that she worked on her time sheets. Doc. 6, p. 5, ¶¶ 23-24. Maynard further alleges that VCA has not paid her for any of the hours allocated as “comp time” or the one-half hour she was prohibited from allocating. Doc. 6, p. 5, ¶ 24.

         Maynard resides down the street from VCA.[3] Doc. 6, pp. 5-7, ¶¶ 26-28. She alleges that, in addition to her normal duties, she was regularly required to drive from her home to VCA after school hours to unlock the premises for employees, turn on computers so they could be accessed remotely, or respond to alarms and wait for security officials to arrive and disable them. Doc. 6, pp. 5-7, ¶¶ 26-28. Maynard alleges that she was not compensated for these after-hours trips to unlock the premises, for which she believes she is entitled to overtime pay. Doc. 6, pp. 5-7, ¶¶ 26-28.

         Maynard was also required to work between six (6) and eight (8) hours at VCA's annual staff meeting each year on a Saturday in February. Doc. 6, p. 5, ¶ 25. She alleges that VCA did not pay her for her labor at these meetings. Doc. 6, p. 5, ¶ 25.

         Furthermore, VCA held garage sales at the school during the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 school years which ran for approximately twelve (12) hours on a Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in the fall. Doc. 6, p. 7, ¶ 29. Maynard worked at the garage sales and alleges that she was paid for only eight (8) hours of her work during the Thursday and Friday shifts, and that she was not paid at all for her work during the Saturday shifts. Doc. 6, p. 7, ¶ 29.

         In October 2015, Maynard suffered an injury and pursued workers' compensation benefits.[4] Doc. 6, p. 8, ¶¶ 37-38.

         In a letter dated June 7, 2016, VCA indicated its intention to release Maynard from employment at the end of July 2016. Doc. 17-1, p. 7. VCA ended Maynard's employment the following month in a letter dated July 22, 2016.[5] Doc. 17-1, p. 8.

         B. The Employment Agreement

         The terms of Maynard's employment for the 2015-2016 school year are set forth in an employment agreement titled “Terms of Employment for Staff Employees” that bears Maynard's signature.[6] Doc. 9-1, pp. 3-4. The agreement, in relevant part, provides:

I agree to attempt to resolve differences with others (parents, fellow-workers, administration and any other person affiliated with VCA) by following the biblical pattern of Matthew 18:15-17 as outlined in section 4.1.7 of the VCA Policy Manual. I also agree to observe appropriate confidentiality in regard to student, parent and school matters. Should unresolved issues remain even after following the above process, both the employee and VCA agree that this shall be solved and settled by Christian mediation and, if necessary, legal binding arbitration in accordance with the rules of procedure for Christian Conciliation, a division of Peacemakers® Ministries, P.O. Box 81130, Billings, MT 59108 (406-256-1583). The complete text of the rules is available at www.Peacemaker.net. Judgment upon any arbitration decision may be entered in any court otherwise having jurisdiction. The parties understand that these methods shall be the sole remedy for any controversy or claim arising out of this agreement and expressly waive their right to file a lawsuit in any civil court against one another for such disputes, except for enforcing an arbitration decision.

Doc. 9-1, p. 3, ¶ 10. This arbitration provision (starting with “Should unresolved issues remain…”) is reproduced in Section 4.1.8 of the VCA Policy Manual.[7] Doc. 9-1, pp. 5-6, § (2)(a). The employment agreement also provides:

I agree that I am responsible to read, understand, and abide by my Job Description, the Constitution and Bylaws of VCA, the entire VCA Policy Manual, and the Parent-Student Handbook. I also agree to abide by any additions, changes, or deletions made to the above documents by the Board of Trustees and I understand that I will be informed of any such changes as they occur.

Doc. 9-1, p. 3, ¶ 6.

         Rule 4 of the Rules for Christian Conciliation (“the Rules”) states that “Conciliators shall take into consideration any state, federal, or local laws that the parties bring to their attention, but the Holy Scripture (the Bible) shall be the supreme authority governing every aspect of the conciliation process.” Doc. 17-2, p. 3, § 4.

         III. ANALYSIS

         The Federal Arbitration Act states that an arbitration provision “shall be valid, irrevocable, and enforceable, save upon such grounds as exist at law or in equity for the revocation of any contract.” 9 U.S.C. § 2. Further, the Federal Arbitration Act allows courts to stay proceedings and refer disputes to arbitration. The Act provides:

If any suit or proceeding be brought in any of the courts of the United States upon any issue referable to arbitration under an agreement in writing for such arbitration, the court in which such suit is pending, upon being satisfied that the issue involved in such suit or proceeding is referable to arbitration under such an agreement, shall on application of one of the parties stay the trial of the action until such arbitration has been had in accordance with the terms of the agreement, providing the applicant for the stay is not in default in proceeding with such arbitration.

9 U.S.C. § 3.

         When a party requests that a federal court compel arbitration under a contract, the “federal court must determine whether the parties agreed to arbitrate the dispute at issue.” Stout v. J.D. Byrider, 228 F.3d 709, 714 (6th Cir. 2000) (citing Mitsubishi Motors Corp. v. Soler Chrysler-Plymouth, Inc., 473 U.S. 614, 626 (1985)). “If the district court is satisfied that the agreement to arbitrate is not ‘in issue, ' it must compel arbitration.” Great Earth Companies, Inc. v. Simons, 288 F.3d 878, 888-889 (6th Cir. 2002) (discussing 9 U.S.C. § 4, which sets forth procedure to be followed by district court when presented with a request to compel arbitration).

         Courts are to examine contractual provisions in light of the strong federal policy favoring arbitration and resolve ambiguities or doubts as to the parties' intentions in favor of arbitration. Stout, 228 F.3d at 714. Ohio law also favors arbitration. Smith v. Sterling Jewelers, Inc., 2013 WL 271813, * 1 (N.D. Ohio Jan. 24, 2013) (relying on Gaffney v. Powell, 107 Ohio App.3d 315, 668 N.E.2d 951, 954 (Ohio ...


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.