United States District Court, D. Rhode Island
GEORGE P. CONDURAGIS, Plaintiff,
PROSPECT CHARTERCARE, LLC, d/b/a CHARTERCARE HEALTH PARTNERS, and PROSPECT CHARTERCARE PHYSICIANS, LLC, d/b/a CHARTERCARE MEDICAL ASSOCIATES, Defendants.
J. McConnell, Jr. United States District Judge
P. Conduragis has sued his former employers, Prospect
CharterCARE, LLC, and Prospect CharterCARE Physicians, LLC
(collectively, "Prospect"), for damages arising
from Prospect's alleged violation of the Family Medical
Leave Act ("FMLA") and the Rhode Island Parental
and Family Medical Leave Act ("RIPFMLA"). Prospect
has moved to dismiss the suit and seeks to compel
arbitration. ECF No. 9. For the reasons set forth herein, the
motion is DENIED. I. BACKGROUND Mr. Conduragis was hired by
Roger Williams Medical Center ("RWMC") in March of
2014. In the next few months, RWMC and its holding companies
were to be acquired by Prospect. To this end, Mr. Conduragis
received a letter from Kenneth Belcher, the chief executive
officer of CharterCARE Health Partners, and Thomas Reardon,
the president of Prospect East Holdings, Inc., announcing the
acquisition of RWMC and its holding by CharterCARE and
explaining its implications for RWMC employees (the
"Letter"). The Letter stated in relevant part:
As a result of the transaction, depending upon your current
location within the CharterCARE system, you will become an
employee of Prospect CharterCARE, LLC, . . . [or] Prospect
CharterCARE Physicians, LLC . . . (individually or
collectively, the "Company").
. . .
At the time our transaction closes (as noted above, on or
about June 20, 2014), you will become a Company employee and
will remain in your current position, at your current status,
rate of pay, and job title. As mentioned in our Quarterly
Employee Forums, employees will not be required to re-apply
for their positions. Company payroll dates and benefits
providers will also remain the same.
. . .
Absent written agreement that states otherwise, your
employment will continue on an at-will basis, meaning that
either you or the Company can terminate the employment
relationship at any time and for any reason and it also means
that the Company can change the terms of your employment,
including compensation and benefits, at any time (this is no
change from your present employment relationship with
CharterCARE). . . .
Please sign below to acknowledge your acceptance of the above
terms of employment with the Company and return to Chris Da
Rosa, Human Resources Generalist. There are two additional
documents you will need to sign. They are Prospect Medical
Holdings' Code of Business Conduct and Ethical Business
Practice ("Code of Conduct") and Arbitration
ECF No. 9-3 at 2-3.
referenced agreement (the "Arbitration Agreement")
was attached to the Letter via a hyperlink to an intranet
site. No physical copy was attached. The Letter did, however,
include the "review and receipt forms" for the
Arbitration Agreement stated that, "[t]o the fullest
extent allowed by law, any controversy, claim or dispute
between [Mr. Conduragis] and [Prospect] . . . relating to or
arising out of your employment or the cessation of that
employment will be submitted to final and binding
arbitration." ECF No. 9-2 at 5. The Arbitration
Agreement "covers all employment-related claims
including, but not limited to, claims for unpaid wages,
breach of contract, torts, violation of public policy,
discrimination, harassment, or any other employment-related
claim under any state or federal statutes or laws relating to
an employee's relationship with his/her employer."
Id. The Arbitration Agreement ends by reciting that,
"by agreeing to this binding mutual arbitration
provision, both [Mr. Conduragis] and [Prospect] give up all
rights to a trial by jury." Id. (emphasis
Conduragis signed both the Letter and the Arbitration
Agreement on the same day and subsequently retained his
position, now as an employee of Prospect. In late December of
2016, Mr. Conduragis was terminated, allegedly in violation
of the FMLA and RIPFMLA, giving rise to this action.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) governs written arbitration
agreements. Seed U.S.C. § 1 et seq.; Circuit City
Stores, Inc. v. Adams, 532 U.S. 105, 119 (2001). When
"construing an arbitration clause, courts and
arbitrators must 'give effect to the contractual rights
and expectations of the parties."' Stolt-Nielsen
S.A. v. AnimalFeeds Int'l Corp., 559 U.S. 662, 682
(2010) (quoting Volt Info. Scis., Inc. v. Bd. of Trs. of
Leland Stanford Junior Univ.,489 U.S. 468, 479 (1989)).
The federal policy favoring arbitration "does not
totally displace ordinary rules of contract
interpretation." Paul Revere ...