from the United States District Court for the Western
District of Texas
KING, ELROD, and GRAVES, Circuit Judges.
JENNIFER WALKER ELROD, CIRCUIT JUDGE:
Huckaba, a former employee of Ref-Chem, L.P., appeals the
district court's judgment compelling arbitration. Because
the express language of the agreement at issue requires for
it to be signed by both parties and because it is undisputed
that Ref-Chem did not sign the agreement, we REVERSE and
sued her former employer, Ref-Chem, in federal district
court. Ref-Chem moved to dismiss and compel arbitration. In
support of its motion, Ref-Chem provided the court with an
arbitration agreement that had been signed by Huckaba. Next
to Huckaba's signature is a signature block for Ref-Chem.
Ref-Chem, however, did not sign the agreement.
agreement provides that:
The organization referred to above ("Employer") and
the Employee, whose signature is affixed hereto,
("Employee"), mutually recognize that there are
many advantages to using mediation and arbitration to settle
any and all legal disputes and claims, including, but not
limited to, all those arising from or in the course of
employment. . . . In consideration of these many benefits,
the mutual agreement of both parties to the binding
arbitration provisions, the continuation of the employment
relationship and other consideration, the sufficiency of
which is hereby acknowledged by Employee, the parties hereto
mutually agree that this document shall govern the resolution
of all claims and disputes between them.
addition, the agreement states that "[b]y signing this
agreement the parties are giving up any right they may have
to sue each other" and that the agreement "may not
be changed, except in writing and signed by all
parties." Along with a copy of the agreement, Ref-Chem
submitted an affidavit from its human resources director.
Among other things, the human resources director states that:
(1) Ref-Chem kept Huckaba's signed arbitration agreement
in her personnel file as a business record; and (2), pursuant
to the agreement, Ref-Chem "voluntarily agreed to
arbitrate any disputes between" itself and Huckaba.
response, Huckaba also submitted an affidavit. She testifies
in her affidavit that she signed the agreement "with the
expectation and intent that it would be passed on for the
signature of the appropriate Ref-Chem" officer. It was
her "intention that in order to be bound by the
agreement to arbitrate, Ref-Chem would also have to sign the
agreement and agree in writing to be bound by its
terms." She states that she did not discuss the terms of
the agreement with anyone, nor did she orally agree to
on the agreement, the district court granted Ref-Chem's
motion to compel and dismissed the case without prejudice
pending arbitration. The district court concluded that
Huckaba's "continued employment after signing the
Arbitration Agreement constitute[d] acceptance of that
agreement by both" her and Ref-Chem. Huckaba timely
court reviews de novo a district court's ruling on a
motion to compel arbitration." Klein v. Nabors
Drilling USA L.P., 710 F.3d 234, 236 (5th Cir. 2013).
Enforcement of an arbitration agreement involves two
analytical steps: (1) whether there is a valid agreement to
arbitrate; and (2) whether the dispute falls within the scope
of that agreement. Id.; see also Kubala v.
Supreme Prod. Servs., Inc., 830 F.3d 199, 201 (5th Cir.
2016). Here, the first step is at issue.
whether there is a valid arbitration agreement is a question
of state contract law and is for the court. Kubala,
830 F.3d at 202. The parties agree that Texas law applies.
Texas has no presumption in favor of arbitration when
determining whether a valid arbitration agreement exists.
J.M. Davidson, Inc. v. Webster, 128 S.W.3d 223, 227
(Tex. 2003). Instead, the party moving to compel arbitration
must show that the agreement meets all of the requisite
contract elements. Id. at 228. In addition, because
the validity ...