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Christian v. Travelcenters of America, LLC

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division

June 30, 2014

ROBERT CHRISTIAN, Plaintiff,
v.
TRAVELCENTERS OF AMERICA, LLC d/b/a Petro and TA OPERATING, LLC d/b/a PETRO, Defendants.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

THOMAS E. ROGERS, III, Magistrate Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA). Presently before the court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and Compel Arbitration (Document #7). All pretrial proceedings in this case were referred to the undersigned pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and (B) and Local Rule 73.02(B)(2)(g), DSC.

II. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

Plaintiff alleges that he was employed as the Shop General Manager at the Petro Stopping Center in Florence, South Carolina from January of 2002 until his termination on January 31, 2013. Complaint ¶ 10. He alleges that Defendants purchased and took over operations of the Petro Stopping Center in December of 2012. Id. at ¶ 11. Plaintiff is medically diagnosed with major depressive disorder, insomnia and anxiety, which substantially limits the major life activities of sleeping and concentrating, among others. Id. at ¶ 12. Plaintiff's employer prior to Defendants purchasing Petro Stopping Center accommodated his disability. Id. at ¶ 17. Subsequent to Defendants' purchase, Plaintiff spoke with his immediate supervisor and a human resources representative on three occasions during January of 2013, and informed them of his need for a reasonable accommodation allowing him a block of time each day to be off work so that he could take his sleep medications. Id. at ¶¶ 19, 21, 22. Defendants denied Plaintiff accommodation requests and informed him that he must be available to work twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Id. at ¶ 20. On January 31, 2013, one day after Plaintiff's third request for an accommodation, Defendants terminated his employment. Id. at ¶ 23.

III. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) and the EEOC issued a notice of right to sue on August 30, 2013. Plaintiff filed the present action on November 25, 2013.

IV. ARBITRATION AGREEMENT

On December 18, 2012, Plaintiff signed a Mutual Agreement to Resolve Disputes and Arbitrate Claims (the Agreement) with Defendant TA Operating, LLC (TAO). Agreement (Ex. A to Defendants' Motion). Attached to the Agreement is a cover sheet which provides bullet points of the information included in the Agreement. The top of the cover sheet provides

IMPORTANT NOTICE REGARDING YOUR EMPLOYMENT WITH TA

YOU MUST CAREFULLY READ THE ATTACHED MUTUAL AGREEMENT TO RESOLVE DISPUTES AND ARBITRATE CLAIMS

Cover Sheet (Ex. A. to Defendants' Motion). It informs the employee that participation in the dispute resolution and arbitration process is a condition of employment and, if the employee decides not to agree with the terms of the Agreement, "TA will consider your employment application to be withdrawn." Id . At the bottom, following the bullet points of the important information contained within the Agreement, the cover sheet provides

You should take the time to carefully review this important document before you sign it. If you have questions, you may contact a member of TA's Human Resources team by calling (440) 808-9100. You also have the right the ask a lawyer about the effect and meaning of the Agreement.

Id. Per the Agreement, Plaintiff and Defendants must resolve all claims that arise out of Plaintiff's employment through arbitration, including a pre-arbitration grievance process design to resolve claims early when ...


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