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Skiba v. Sasser

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division

October 19, 2018

JUDITH SKIBA PLAINTIFF
v.
ROBERT SASSER, ET AL. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION [24] TO REOPEN CASE AND SET ASIDE JUDGMENT FOR FRAUD, MISREPRESENTATION, AND MISCONDUCT, AND DENYING HER PETITION [26] TO VACATE ARBITRATION AWARD

          HALIL SULEYMAN OZERDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         BEFORE THE COURT are Plaintiff's Motion [24] to Reopen Case and Set Aside Judgment for Fraud, Misrepresentation, and Misconduct, and her Petition [26] to Vacate Arbitration Award. The Motion and Petition are fully briefed. After due consideration of the record as a whole and relevant legal authority, the Court finds that Plaintiff's Motion and Petition should be denied.

         I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

         A. Plaintiff's EEOC claim

         This case arises out of Plaintiff Judith Skiba's (“Plaintiff”) employment at the Family Dollar Store in Moss Point, Mississippi. Compl. [1] at 3. On February 8, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. (“Title VII”), with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). See EEOC documents [18-7] at 2. Plaintiff claimed that she had been discriminated against based upon her “race (White).” Plaintiff alleged that she was hired in 2014, but that beginning on January 25, 2015, she was continuously subjected to racial slurs and vulgar language by a “Black coworker” which created a hostile work environment. Id. Plaintiff asserted that when she complained to her manager and to the corporate offices, her work hours were decreased while “Blacks were getting favoritism by getting more hours.” Id. Plaintiff contended that she was the only remaining “White employee” at the store when she was constructively discharged by being forced to resign due to the deplorable work conditions. Id. On October 7, 2016, the EEOC issued its Dismissal and Notice of Rights informing Plaintiff that it was not able to conclude that she had been discriminated against under Title VII. Id. at 1.

         B. Plaintiff's Complaint in this Court

         On December 23, 2016, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed a Complaint [1] in this Court advancing claims for violations of Title VII and of Mississippi Code § 25-9-103(c) and § 97-3-107. Plaintiff named as Defendants Robert Sasser, CEO, Dollar Tree Company Parent Company; Gary Philbin, President of Family Dollar Company, Subsidiary Company of Dollar Tree Company; Aaron Hendricks, District Manager of Family Dollar Company, Subsidiary of Dollar Tree Company; and Joe Young, Manager of Family Dollar Company, Subsidiary of Dollar Tree Company (“Defendants”). Compl. [1] at 1-7.

         Specifically, Plaintiff asserted that she was a sixty-two year old white female who had been employed with Family Dollar for a year and a half. Compl. [1] at 3. When a new store manager, Joe Young, was hired he allegedly began hiring only black employees and discharging white employees, until Plaintiff was the only remaining white employee at that store. Id. at 3-4. According to Plaintiff, beginning in January 2015, a black employee began to harass her, including subjecting her to racial slurs, which purportedly created a hostile work environment. Id. Plaintiff claimed that when she complained to her manager and to the corporate offices, her work hours were cut, while the hours of black employees were increased, and that she was forced to resign because she was working only one day a week. Id. at 5. Plaintiff sought compensatory damages from each Defendant, jointly and severally, in the amount of $20, 000.00, as well as punitive damages from each Defendant, jointly and severally, in the amount of $20, 000.00. Id. at 6.

         On March 28, 2017, Defendants filed a Motion [15] to Dismiss and/or to Compel Arbitration. The Court granted that Motion on September 11, 2017, and ordered that the case be submitted to arbitration. Op. [22].

         C. The arbitration of Plaintiff's claims

         The arbitration was conducted on April 24, 2018, at Brooks Court Reporting in Gulfport, Mississippi. Mem. in Supp. [27] at 2. On May 8, 2018, after weighing the evidence, the testimony and credibility of the witnesses, and the documentary evidence, the Arbitrator found that Plaintiff had failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that her employer, Family Dollar Stores of Mississippi, Inc., had violated her Title VII rights. Award of Arbitration [27-4] at 3-4. The Arbitrator further found that the evidence “at best proves only that a fellow employee, ” “in no way connected with the management” of Family Dollar Stores of Mississippi, Inc., discriminated against Plaintiff on the basis of race. Id. at 4. The award dismissed Plaintiff's Title VII claims with prejudice, and ordered Family Dollar Stores of Mississippi, Inc., to pay all arbitration expenses and fees.

         Apparently, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the Award of Arbitration on or about May 19, 2018, which the Arbitrator addressed in a Disposition of Motion for Reconsideration in Award of Arbitrator [29-2]. The Arbitrator found in pertinent part that

Rule 40 of Employment Rules of the AAA provide that an arbitrator, upon notice, may correct any clerical, typographical, technical, or computational errors in the award. “The arbitrator is not empowered to redetermine the merits of any claim already decided.” Therefore, I conclude that I am without jurisdiction to consider Claimant's present motion. However, if jurisdiction did exist, Claimant's motion would be denied.
Several prehearing conferences were conducted regarding discovery issues raised by Claimant. Respondent responded by providing Claimant with all materials in its possession requested by Claimant. No. documents were introduced at the evidentiary hearing which had not been provided to Claimant by Respondent.
At a prehearing conference prior to the evidentiary hearing, Claimant complained that she had been advised by the Respondent that she could not engage the services of a court reporter. Respondent denied having ever told Claimant that. In that same conference call I told Claimant that she was certainly entitled to engage the services of a court reporter if she so chose. She did not do so.
Finally, your arbitrator was not biased against Claimant, and her allegation that I favored the Respondent is simply untrue.

         Disposition of Mot. for Recons. in Award of Arbitrator [29-2] at 1.

         D. Plaintiff's Motion and Petition to reopen case to ...


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