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Shatteen v. Omni Hotels Management Corp.

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

July 6, 2015

TAMIKO SHATTEEN, Plaintiff,
v.
OMNI HOTELS MANAGEMENT CORPORATION, Defendant

Page 177

For Tamiko Shatteen, Plaintiff: Dirk McClanahan, LEAD ATTORNEY, MCCLANAHAN POWERS, PLLC, Vienna, VA USA.

For Omni Hotels Management Corporation, agent of OMNI SHOREHAM HOTEL, Defendant: Christine M. Costantino, Raymond C. Baldwin, LEAD ATTORNEYS, SEYFARTH SHAW, LLP, Washington, DC USA.

Page 178

MEMORANDUM OPINION

RICHARD J. LEON, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Tamiko Shatteen (" plaintiff" ) commenced this action on November 20, 2014 against defendant Omni Hotels Management Corporation (" defendant" ), for alleged violations of the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (" FMLA" ) 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq. See generally Compl. [Dkt. #1]. In response, defendant moved to dismiss the case and compel arbitration in accordance with the parties' arbitration agreement. See Def.'s Mot. Dismiss Compl. & Compel Arb. (" Def.'s Mot." ) [Dkt. #7]. Upon consideration of the parties' pleadings, the relevant law, and the entire record herein, the Court GRANTS defendant's Motion and DISMISSES the case.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff began working as a Banquet Coordinator at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. on April 11, 2011. Compl. ¶ 7. As a precondition of her employment, plaintiff signed the " Summary of the Amended Omni Arbitration Program" (" Agreement" ), which states in relevant part:

The Company [defendant] and the Associate [plaintiff] hereby consent to the resolution by arbitration of all claims or controversies arising out of [plaintiff's] application with, employment with, or termination from, the Company. This Agreement is mutual encompassing all claims [plaintiff] may have against [defendant] . . . . The claims covered by this Agreement include . . . claims for violation of any federal, state or other statute, ordinance, regulation, or common law."

Def.'s Mot. Ex. 1 ¶ 1 [Dkt. #7-3] (emphasis in original). The details of the arbitration program are contained in the " Omni Hotels Amended and Restated Dispute Resolution Program" (" Program" ), which the Agreement incorporates by reference. See Def.'s Mot. Ex. 1; see generally Def.'s Mot. Ex. 2 [Dkt. #7-4]. The Program has several pertinent features. First, it requires the party requesting arbitration to pay a filing fee of up to $125.00. Def.'s Mot. Ex. 2 ¶ 9. Upon commencement, the parties " shall split the cost of the first hearing day." Def.'s Mot. Ex. 2 ¶ 9. All " other arbitration costs shall be born by [defendant]." Def.'s Mot. Ex. 2 ¶ 9. If,

Page 179

however, the employee " cannot share the fees described above for financial reasons," he or she " can request the [defendant] to pay the remainder of the arbitration costs." Def.'s Mot. Ex. ¶ 9. Second, the Agreement precludes the arbitrator from awarding any " punitive or exemplary damages" to plaintiff. Def.'s Mot. Ex. 2 at ¶ 4.4. Finally, it allows defendant to modify or revoke the Program with 14 days' advance notice of its changes, but prohibits any ensuing amendments from having a retroactive effect. Def.'s Mot. Ex. 2 at ¶ 16.3.

In March 2014, plaintiff suffered a stroke and requested medical leave pursuant to the FMLA. Compl. ¶ ¶ 9-10. Defendant granted her request. Compl. ¶ 10. When plaintiff returned to work on July 21, 2014, she discovered that defendant had terminated her position. Compl. ¶ ¶ 15-16. Shortly thereafter, plaintiff commenced the instant case, alleging violations of the FMLA. See Compl. Defendant, in response, ...


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