United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
KATHLEEN B. BURKE U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
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. Doc. 6, pp. 8-12.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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, ¶
resides down the street from VCA. 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.
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,
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.
October 2015, Maynard suffered an injury and pursued
workers' compensation benefits. Doc. 6, p. 8, ¶¶
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. Doc. 17-1, p. 8.
The Employment Agreement
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. 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. 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.
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, §
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
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.
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).
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 ...