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Badgerow v. Rej Properties, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

January 10, 2018


         SECTION: "A" (2)



         The following motions are before the Court: Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim and to Compel Arbitration (Rec. Doc. 27) filed by defendant Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc.; Motion to Dismiss Class Claims and Motion to Compel Arbitration, Dismiss Action, and Strike Jury Demand (Rec. Doc. 26) filed by defendant REJ Properties, Inc. d/b/a Walters, Meyer, Trosclair & Associates. Plaintiff Denise A. Badgerow opposes the motions. The motions, noticed for submission on December 13, 2017, are before the Court on the briefs without oral argument.[1]

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Denise Badgerow has filed this action against REJ Properties, Inc. d/b/a Walters, Meyer, Trosclair & Associates (“WMT”) and Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. WMT is domiciled in Lafourche Parish; Ameriprise's principal place of business is located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Badgerow's complaint alleges eleven causes of action arising out of her employment with WMT.

         Ameriprise is a registered broker dealer that offers financial products and services to customers through several models, including through a franchisee-based platform of independent advisors who own and operate their own businesses, as franchises. (Rec. Doc. 27-2, Odash decl. ¶ 3). The principals of WMT-Gregory Walters, Thomas Meyer, and Roy Trosclair-were independent franchise advisors for Ameriprise during the period of Badgerow's employment. (Id. ¶ 4). Ameriprise did not have a franchise agreement with REJ Properties, Inc. (Id. ¶ 5).[2]

         After completing a 90-day probationary period with WMT, Badgerow was promoted to Associate Financial Advisor (“AFA”) on January 1, 2014. (Rec. Doc. 1, Complaint § 12). Her work as an AFA was supervised by Gregory Walters, one of three directors at WMT. (Id. ¶ 12).

         Badgerow contends that she had an oral agreement with WMT that she would receive a base salary of $30, 000 per year plus commissions. Badgerow was not provided a written compensation agreement. (Id. ¶ 14). Badgerow complains that WMT retroactively changed her compensation structure in October 2014 after she made a large commissioned sale. (Id. ¶ 15). Badgerow alleges that the new compensation structure was enforced only against her and not against similarly situated male employees. (Id. ¶ 17). She also alleges that she was earning quarterly bonuses that were half the amount of her male counterparts. (Id. ¶ 24).

         Badgerow also alleges that she was subjected to constant office harassment after she declined to work as Walters' assistant. The harassment was instigated by Tommy Meyer, another director at WMT, and his team, including other females. (Id. ¶¶ 20-21). Even though Badgerow was promoted to the role of Financial Advisor (“FA”), Meyer determined that all FAs would keep the title of “associate” until they attained five years of service with WMT. (Id. ¶ 23). In December 2015, after complaining constantly to Walters, Badgerow was moved to a separate office to avoid any further distress to Meyer, segregating her from the rest of the WMT team and putting her in an office all by herself. (Id. ¶ 25).

         On July 26, 2016, Walters terminated Badgerow after she refused to resign. (Id. ¶ 29). According to the Complaint, Walters fired Badgerow in retaliation for speaking with Marc Cohen, a compliance officer with Ameriprise.[3] (Id. ¶ 29).

         Badgerow filed a Charge of Discrimination against WMT on September 8, 2016, claiming gender discrimination and retaliation. (Rec. Doc. 27-3 at 5). On October 6, 2016, she amended the charge to include class allegations. (Id. at 8). On June 27, 2017, the EEOC issued a dismissal and notice of rights (Id. at 13).

         Badgerow filed the instant action and jury demand on September 22, 2017, against WMT and Ameriprise. Badgerow's Complaint, which ostensibly alleges eleven causes of action, asserts claims for violations of Title VII (gender-based hostile work environment and retaliation), and the Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d)(1) (disparate pay based on gender).[4] Badgerow's third cause of action is for disparate treatment based on gender and she purports to bring that claim on behalf of a class of similarly-situated females. For purposes of the foregoing discrimination claims, Badgerow alleges that WMT and Ameriprise were joint employers. Badgerow's eleventh cause of action is for breach of contract against WMT.[5]

         WMT and Ameriprise now move separately to dismiss the case for failure to state a claim and to compel arbitration.

         II. ...

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