United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
PARADISE HOGAN, on behalf of himself and all other similarly situated, Plaintiff,
SPAR GROUP, INC. and SPAR BUSINESS SERVICES, INC., Defendants.
ORDER ON MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION
Sorokin United States District Judge
Paradise Hogan filed a First Amended Class Action Complaint
(the “Complaint”) in May 2017 alleging violations
of the Massachusetts Wage Act, G.L. c. 149 §§ 148,
150, and the Massachusetts Independent Contractor Law, G.L.
c. 149 § 148B, against Defendants SPAR Group, Inc.
(“SPAR”) and SPAR Business Services, Inc.
(“SBS”). Doc. No. 30. Defendants, citing the
Independent Contractor Master Agreement (the
“Agreement”) between Hogan and SBS, move to
dismiss or stay this action and to compel Hogan to submit his
claims to arbitration on an individual basis pursuant to the
Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”), 9 U.S.C.
§§ 1-16. In the alternative, Defendants move to
dismiss the Complaint under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). For the
reasons that follow, the Court DENIES the motion to compel
arbitration, ALLOWS in part and DENIES in part the motion to
stay this action, and DENIES the motion to dismiss pursuant
to Rule 12(b)(6).
Court recites facts alleged in the Complaint, Doc. No. 30,
which the Court accepts as true for purposes of considering
Defendants' motion to dismiss.
in or about May 2015, Hogan served as a “Field
Specialist” for SBS, a retailer services staffing
company that provides personnel to various
companies-including SBS's affiliate, SPAR-which in turn
provide various services for retailer clients. Id.
¶¶ 9, 33. SBS provides substantially all of its
Field Specialists to perform services to SPAR and classifies
these Field Specialists as independent contractors.
Id. ¶¶ 12-13. Field Specialists work on
merchandising and assembly projects for SPAR's retailer
clients on an as-needed basis. Id. ¶ 15.
Neither SBS nor SPAR reimburses Hogan or other Field
Specialists for costs or expenses incurred in their
performance of assignments for SPAR. Id.
to commencing work as a Field Specialist, Hogan signed the
Agreement. SBS drafted the Agreement and required all
Field Specialists to sign it. Id. ¶¶
36-39. The Agreement contains no reference to the entity
SPAR. Paragraph 20 of the Agreement requires parties to the
Agreement to resolve disputes in arbitration:
Any dispute between the Parties relating to this Master
Agreement or otherwise arising out of their relationship
under its terms, including but not limited to any disputes
over rights provided by federal, state, or local statutes,
regulations, ordinances, and/or common law, shall be
determined by arbitration. That arbitration shall proceed
before one arbitrator form [sic] the American Arbitration
Association (“AAA”) under the AAA Commercial
Arbitration Rules then in effect for a domestic commercial
dispute, accessible at: http://www.adr.org. The Parties
acknowledge the Master Agreement evidences a transaction
involving interstate commerce, and the arbitration shall be
governed by the United States Federal Arbitration Act (9
U.S.C., Sections 1-16) (“FAA”).
Doc. No. 33-1 § 20. The arbitration clause also
prohibits a party from bringing claims in a class action:
The Parties agree that any claim shall be brought solely in
the individual capacity of SBS or the Independent Contractor,
and not as a representative of any other persons or any
alleges that SBS and SPAR misclassify him and other Field
Specialists as independent contractors rather than employees,
such that SBS and SPAR avoid paying Wage Act-mandated
expenses in relation to Hogan and other Field Specialists and
compensate Hogan and other Field Specialists in an amount
below the hourly minimum wage.
provides that contracts that include written provision to
resolve disputes by arbitration “shall be valid,
irrevocable, and enforceable, save upon such grounds as exist
at law or in equity for the revocation of any
contract.” 9 U.S.C. § 2. Under the FAA, a court,
upon determining that an action is subject to an enforceable
arbitration agreement, “shall […] stay the trial
of the action until such arbitration has been had in
accordance with the terms of the agreement, ”
id. § 3, and “shall make an order
directing the parties to proceed to arbitration in accordance
with the terms of the agreement” if a party has failed
to comply with the agreement, id. § 4.
Motion to Compel ...