United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
M. AFRICK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is the defendant's motion to dismiss or to
compel arbitration. The Court held two evidentiary hearings
in connection with the motion. Having now considered the
evidence adduced at those hearings, as well as the
appropriate standard of law, the Court grants the motion and
Lasseigne is a Caucasian female. She was hired as a sales
associate by Sterling Jewelers, Inc. d/b/a Jared the Galleria
of Jewelry (“Sterling”) in February 2014.
Lasseigne worked for Sterling until June 2015, when she
claims that she was constructively discharged due to her
race. According to the complaint, Lasseigne's manager
Latoya Washington-an African-American female-discriminated
against white employees like Lasseigne, habitually speaking
to them in a demeaning manner and affording preferential
treatment to black employees. Although Lasseigne allegedly
complained repeatedly about the discrimination to her
district manager and to human resources, she alleges that
nothing was ever done to address the problem.
filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission after she left Sterling. In July 2016,
the EEOC found Lasseigne's claims of racial
discrimination against Washington and Sterling to be
substantiated. On September 13, 2016, Lasseigne received a
right-to-sue letter. She filed this lawsuit on December 7,
2016, alleging that Sterling's actions violated Title
VII, 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and Louisiana state law.
immediately filed the present motion to dismiss or stay and
compel arbitration pursuant to its employment agreement with
Lasseigne. Sterling argues that upon being hired, all of its
employees-including Lasseigne-must sign an agreement to
resolve employment-related disputes through the
to Sterling, the RESOLVE Program is a three-step alternative
dispute resolution program with the final step being
mandatory arbitration. On their first day of work, new
Sterling employees log into Sterling's human resources
system and begin an electronic onboarding process. The
process requires the employees to access a number of
mandatory screens addressing various human resources topics.
Among the subjects the employee must review is Sterling's
RESOLVE Program. The employee clicks on a link which opens a
page summarizing the RESOLVE Program agreement. The page
instructs the employee to “click the following link to
review the RESOLVE Program” agreement in its entirety.
See R. Doc. No. 7-3, at 4. At the bottom of the
page, the employee must enter her electronic signature
signifying that “I acknowledge that I have read,
understand, and agree to the terms and conditions established
in the RESOLVE Program Arbitration Agreement.”
See R. Doc. No. 7-3, at 4. The employee may not
proceed past that point in the onboarding process until he or
she reviews the RESOLVE Program and clicks on the link
signifying the employee's agreement to it.
support of its motion, Sterling submitted computer records
evidencing Lasseigne's electronic signature agreeing to
the terms and conditions of the RESOLVE Program. The records
show that Lasseigne's electronic signature was provided
at 2:47pm on February 24, 2014-Lasseigne's first day of
work. Sterling explained that an employee's electronic
signature cannot be entered without first entering a personal
code which only the employee knows. The computer records the
amount of time spent at each step of the onboarding process.
According to the records, Lasseigne spent thirty seconds on
the page displaying the RESOLVE Program agreement.
declaration attached to her opposition, Lasseigne claimed
that she “never completed the computer portion of my
orientation” because her “login procedure was
ineffective.” See R. Doc. No. 12-2. She
instead asserted that “Keenan Goldsmith, the general
manager of my store, actually completed the computer portion
of my initial employee processing.” See R.
Doc. No. 12-2. Lasseigne also submitted declarations from
other former Sterling sales associates-and an assistant
general manager-in which they claimed never to have been made
aware of the RESOLVE Program and not to have knowingly agreed
to participate in the RESOLVE Program. She argued that she
could not be forced to participate in the Program because she
did not sign the agreement and she was never made aware of
Court held two evidentiary hearings. In addition to
testifying herself at the hearings, Lasseigne called to
testify each of the former Sterling employees who had
submitted declarations in support of her opposition. At the
Court's direction, Keenan Goldsmith, the general manager
who guided Lasseigne through the electronic onboarding
process, was called to testify. The only witness called by
Sterling was Jamie Broadhead, the Director of Human Resources
the former Sterling employees called to testify by
Lasseigne-Thomas Mancil, Shana Johnson, George Peralta, and
Patsy LaRive-did not remember the RESOLVE Program. However,
when confronted with their signatures, none of the witnesses
denied that they had signed the arbitration agreement.
Neither did any of the witnesses deny that they had been
afforded an opportunity to read all of the documents with
which they were presented during the onboarding
testified that her memory of the onboarding process as a
whole was not sharp, though she was certain that she and Mr.
Goldsmith switched chairs at least once at the beginning of
the onboarding process in order to allow him to fix a
computer problem. Although Lasseigne was initially adamant
that she neither saw nor signed the RESOLVE agreement during
her onboarding process, her subsequent testimony revealed
that Lasseigne did not remember many of the documents with
which she was presented during the onboarding
process. When Lasseigne was questioned about the
sworn statement she had submitted in connection with her
opposition, she admitted that several of the assertions in
the statement-which was not prepared by Lasseigne but rather
by her counsel-were not entirely accurate. She admitted, for
example, that the declaration's statement that
“During my onboarding process I never completed the
computer portion of my orientation, ” was not
true. She also clarified that although her
declaration stated that “Keenan Goldsmith, the general
manager of my store, actually completed the computer portion
of my initial employee processing, ” what she meant was
that Mr. Goldsmith used the computer at some point during the
beginning of her onboarding process. Lasseigne conceded that she
had completed at least part of the computer
Lasseigne simply could not remember those portions of the
electronic onboarding process in which Mr. Goldsmith may have
participated. She was certain, however, that Mr.
Goldsmith never instructed her not to read certain documents
during the onboarding process and that Mr. Goldsmith never
shielded any documents from her view during the
Goldsmith, although he was unable to remember conducting the
onboarding with Lasseigne specifically, was able to elucidate
why it may have been necessary for him to use the computer
during Lasseigne's electronic onboarding process. He
Q. Okay. Do you remember the -- do you remember anything
about Mary Lasseigne's on-boarding process at all?
A. No. I remember I did it, but I don't remember all the
specifics of it.
Q. Do you remember there being any issue with the logging-in
procedure with respect to Mary?
A. Not specifically with respect to her. But I can say with
the new on- boarding process that we had with the computer
system, we would get kicked off a lot. There were several
passwords that you had to put in, so a lot of times you'd
have to stop to go and get the information that you needed
password-wise and come back to fill in the information.
R. Doc. No. 20, at 6:12-6:23. Later, when confronted with the
question of whether he might sometimes enter information
during an employee's onboarding process which was
supposed to be entered by the employee, Mr. Goldsmith
Q. And you didn't complete any portion of the on-boarding
other than what you were required to complete, that being the
I-9 and then the payroll information?
Q. So you wouldn't go through and acknowledge any
policies that were presented to the new employee during the
A. No. That would be a big no-no.
THE COURT: Let me ask you something. Let me get to the meat
of this, if I can. In your entire career as a general manager
-- this is Judge Africk. [Mr. Goldsmith testified by
telephone at the agreement of the parties].
THE WITNESS: Yes, sir.
THE COURT: -- a general manager at Jared, did you ever
electronically sign a new hire's name to a document on
the computer during the on-boarding process?
THE WITNESS: No, sir. That would be against company policy.
THE COURT: And did you ever complete any portion of the
on-boarding process which was required to be ...