Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT Lewis A. Zipkin Andrea J. Latessa In
Son J. Loving Zipkin Whiting Co., L.P.A.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES James H. Grove R. Christopher
Yingling Nicola Gudbranson & Cooper Republic Building,
Amy Berman Hamilton.
BEFORE: Jones, J., Keough, P.J., and Celebrezze, J.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
A. JONES, SR., J.
In this appeal, plaintiff-appellant Sherita Booker
("Booker") challenges the trial court's January
13, 2017 judgment that granted the motion to stay the case
pending arbitration that was filed by defendants-appellees
Beauty Express Salons, Inc. and Leslie Pope
("Pope"). For the reasons that follow, we reverse
and remand for further proceedings.
Booker, an African-American, filed this action in 2016, after
her June 2015 termination as a hair stylist for Beauty
Express Salons ("Beauty Express"). At all relevant
times, Pope was the store manager at the salon; she
supervised Booker and terminated her employment.
Booker's complaint set forth claims for relief based on
the following: (1) race discrimination-disparate treatment;
(2) race discrimination-hostile work environment; (3)
retaliation; (4) negligent retention and supervision; and (5)
intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Beauty Express filed a motion to dismiss, or in the
alternative to stay pending arbitration. Attached to its
motion was an arbitration agreement purportedly signed by
Booker. Booker opposed the motion, contending that she had
"no specific or recollection of the existence of the
arbitration agreement, let alone reviewing or signing"
it, and contended that the trial court had venue and
subject-matter jurisdiction over her claims. According to
Booker, "arbitration is not appropriate."
Booker contended that Beauty Express failed to authenticate
the purported agreement it attached to its motion, as
required by Evid.R. 901(A). She further contended that, even
if the agreement were authenticated, her intentional
infliction of emotional distress claim did not fall within
the scope of the agreement and, therefore, the trial court
had jurisdiction over that claim.
Additionally, Booker claimed that the arbitration agreement
was both substantively and procedurally unconscionable. She
also contended that because Pope did not sign the agreement,
her claims against Pope were not subject to the agreement.
In response to Booker's claim about the authenticity of
the agreement it submitted, Beauty Express filed an affidavit
of Joni Jacobson ("Jacobson"), the senior vice
president for human resources for Beauty Express. Jacobson
averred that every new employee is required to fill out
certain documents, including an "employment
agreement" and an "arbitration agreement."
According to Jacobson, "[e]xecution of the employment
agreement and the arbitration agreement by every applicant is
a condition of employment. Those who do not complete the
agreements cannot be hired." Jacobson also averred that
the arbitration agreement Booker signed had been maintained
in her personnel file, as was the company's customary
business practice, and that the signature on the ...