G&S Prevails on Motion to Dismiss Filed by Second Largest Pizza Hut Franchisee in the United States

The United States District Court for Maryland has held that federal litigation on behalf of G&S’s client, Ellen D. Kennedy, against her former employer, the second largest Pizza Hut franchisee in the United States, may proceed in court and not before an arbitrator. Mrs. Kennedy alleges that the franchisee, and her former supervisor, wrongly terminated her more than 20 year employment after she took short-term leave to tend to her ailing, elderly parents who resided in a different state. Mrs. Kennedy sued the franchisee and her former manager for interference with her rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq.; retaliation for assertion of her rights under the FMLA; defamation per se; violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1), and its Maryland counterpart; and wrongful discharge.

Defendants moved to dismiss Mrs. Kennedy’s claims or to compel arbitration, arguing that she had agreed to arbitrate her claims in November 2007 when she completed an “employment application” asking for her biographical information (after she had worked at the same location for the past 15 years) in preparation for a change of store ownership. Defendants threatened Mrs. Kennedy with sanctions because she had, in their mind, filed her law suit in bad faith. Mrs. Kennedy refused to back down, and the Court resoundingly found in her favor.

The Court ordered Defendants to answer Mrs. Kennedy’s allegations in accordance with the Federal Rules.