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STEFANI CRIDER v. GMRI, INC., D.B.A., THE CAPITAL
GRILLE, ET AL
Case Number: 108863
Judge: PATRICIA ANN BLACKMON
Court: COURT OF APPEALS OF OHIO
EIGHTH APPELLATE DISTRICT
COUNTY OF CUYAHOGA
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Crider applied for a position with Capital Grille in 2016. Documents
contained within the applicant tracking system indicate that Crider received a copy
of GMRI’s dispute resolution process (“DRP”) and that this agreement “requires that
disputes that involve the matters subject to the agreement be submitted to
mediation or arbitration pursuant to the arbitration agreement rather than to a
judge or jury in court.” However, it does not appear that Crider signed a DRP
acknowledgment form or other provisions outlined in the DRP. GMRI hired Crider
as sales and marketing manager of Capital Grille on February 6, 2016. Marc Hall
(“Hall”) worked as a coemployee, Nicholas Soike was her managing partner, and
Lundeen served as regional manager.
On November 15, 2018, Crider filed a police report with the Lyndhurst
Police Department accusing Hall of gross sexual imposition, and Hall was
subsequently charged with disorderly conduct in connection with this incident. On
November 19, 2018, Lundeen advised Crider that she was being investigated for
using profanity at the workplace, a charge Crider denied. On November 26, 2018,
Lundeen instructed Crider to meet her at a coffee shop to discuss her job. When
Crider arrived, Lundeen advised her that she was terminated from employment.
Crider filed an eight-claim complaint against GMRI on May 20, 2019.
In relevant part, Crider alleged that she was subjected to repeated instances of sexual
harassment from Hall, including crude and vulgar comments and inappropriate
touching. Crider maintained that she immediately reported to Soike and Lundeen,
but Hall was never reprimanded. On November 15, 2018, according to Crider’s
complaint, Hall refused to leave her office when asked to do so, then “wrapped his
arms around her chest in a bearhug [and] began running his hands down her
thighs.” Despite reporting the incident to Soike, Hall was permitted to continue
working that evening, and Crider was terminated within days of reporting the
incident to the police. Crider set forth claims for assault and battery, negligent
hiring and retention, negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress,
wrongful termination in violation of R.C. Chapter 4112, hostile work environment,
negligent failure to provide a safe work environment, unlawful retaliation, and
aiding and abetting in Hall’s unlawful conduct.
In lieu of an answer, GMRI filed a motion to dismiss or stay
proceedings pending arbitration. In relevant part, GMRI maintained that Crider
agreed to the DRP which is the “sole means for resolving covered employmentrelated disputes.” In opposition, Crider denied signing the DRP, and maintained
that GMRI waived its provisions by failing to employ mediation or other DRP
remedies and immediately terminating her employment. She further argued that
her claims for relief were independent of her employment relationship as a matter
The trial court denied GMRI’s motion or dismiss or stay proceedings
pending arbitration without opinion.
Arbitration of Dispute
In the assigned error, GMRI asserts that the trial court erred in
denying its motion to dismiss or stay proceedings pending arbitration.
R.C. 2711.02(B) provides for the enforcement of an arbitration
agreement when a party requests a stay of litigation pending arbitration:
If any action is brought upon any issue referable to arbitration under
an agreement in writing for arbitration, the court in which the action is
pending, upon being satisfied that the issue involved in the action is
referable to arbitration under an agreement in writing for arbitration,
shall on application of one of the parties stay the trial of the action until
the arbitration of the issue has been had in accordance with the
agreement, provided the applicant for the stay is not in default in
proceeding with arbitration.
Ohio courts recognize a presumption favoring arbitration that arises
when the claim in dispute falls within the scope of the arbitration provision. Thomas
v. Hyundai of Bedford, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 108212, 2020-Ohio-185, ¶ 9, citing
Wallace v. Ganley Auto Group, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 95081, 2011-Ohio-2909, ¶
13. However, parties cannot be compelled to arbitrate a dispute they have not agreed
to submit to arbitration. Natale v. Frantz Ward, L.L.P., 2018-Ohio-1412, 110 N.E.3d
829, ¶ 9 (8th Dist.), citing Council of Smaller Ents. v. Gates, McDonald & Co., 80
Ohio St.3d 661, 1998-Ohio-172, 687 N.E.2d 1352, and Locum Med. Group, L.L.C. v.
VJC Med., 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 102512, 2015-Ohio-3037, ¶ 10. Therefore, a court
has an independent duty to determine if the claims involved are subject to
arbitration under the arbitration agreement. Id.; Academy of Med. v. Aetna Health,
Inc., 108 Ohio St.3d 185, 2006-Ohio-657, 842 N.E.2d 488, ¶ 14. On appeal, we
review the trial court’s ruling de novo, a standard under which we accord no
deference to the ruling of the trial court. Taylor Bldg. Corp. of Am. v. Benfield, 117
Ohio St.3d 352, 2008-Ohio-938, 884 N.E.2d 12, ¶ 2; Arnold v. Burger King, 8th
Dist. Cuyahoga No. 101465, 2015-Ohio-4485, 48 N.E.3d 69, ¶ 11.
Assault and Related Claims
In Arnold, the plaintiff asserted she was raped by her supervisor while
at work. The plaintiff set forth claims against her employer and supervisor for sexual
assault, respondeat superior, negligent retention, emotional distress, intentional
tort, employment discrimination. The employer and supervisor moved to compel
arbitration under an arbitration agreement that pertained to “any claims arising out
of” employment, and “claims or controversies relating to events outside the scope of
your employment.” The trial court denied the motion to compel arbitration. Id. at
¶ 1. In undertaking de novo review, this court considered the action was not within
the scope of the mandatory arbitration agreement, as the claims existed
independent of the employment relationship where they could be maintained
without reference to the contract or relationship, and the claims were not a
foreseeable result of the employment. Id. at ¶ 65-67. Additionally, this court also
concluded that the agreement was unconscionable. Arnold, 2015-Ohio-4485, 48
N.E.3d 69, at ¶ 82-83.
The Arnold court explained that Ohio courts apply the reasoning set
forth in Fazio v. Lehman Bros., Inc., 340 F.3d 386 (6th Cir.2003), to determine
whether a cause of action is within the scope of an arbitration agreement. Id., citing
Academy of Medicine v. Aetna Health, Inc., 108 Ohio St.3d 185, 2006-Ohio-657,
842 N.E.2d 488 at ¶ 3. Under the Fazio test, “a proper method of analysis here is to
ask if an action could be maintained without reference to the contract or relationship
at issue. If it could, it is likely outside the scope of the arbitration agreement.” Fazio,
340 F.3d at 395. See also Complete Personnel Logistics, Inc. v. Patton, 8th Dist.
Cuyahoga No. 86857, 2006-Ohio-3356, ¶ 15 (“tort claims that may be asserted
independently, without reference to the contract, fall outside the scope of the
arbitration provision”). The court also considered whether “the acts complained of
were a foreseeable result of Arnold’s employment.” Id. at ¶ 62.
The Arnold court recognized that the analysis is undertaken “based
upon the factual allegations in the complaint instead of on the legal theories
presented.” Id. at ¶ 31, quoting Academy of Medicine at ¶ 29. Additionally, this
court recognized that “the existence of a contract between the parties does not mean
that every dispute between the parties is arbitrable.” Id. at ¶ 31, quoting Academy
of Medicine at ¶ 29.
The Arnold court also looked to the following considerations set forth
in Aiken v. World Fin. Corp., 373 S.C. 144, 644 S.E.2d 705 (2007):
even the most broadly-worded arbitration agreements still have limits
founded in general principles of contract law, this Court will refuse to
interpret any arbitration agreement as applying to outrageous torts
that are unforeseeable to a reasonable consumer in the context of
normal business dealings.
* * *
In establishing the line for claims subject to arbitration, this Court does
not seek to exclude all intentional torts from the scope of
arbitration. * * * We only seek to distinguish those outrageous torts,
which although factually related to the performance of the contract, are
legally distinct from the contractual relationship between the parties.
See McMahon v. RMS Electronics, Inc., 618 F. Supp. 189, 191 (S.D.N.Y.
Id. at ¶ 35, quoting Aiken v. World Fin. Corp., 373 S.C. 144, 644 S.E.2d 705 (2007).
The Arnold court held that “[c]learly, a lawsuit arising from a rape is
an outrageous tort that is legally distinct from the contractual relationship between
the parties.” Id., 2015-Ohio-4485, 48 N.E.3d 69. Moreover, the Arnold court
surveyed a vast amount of cases involving sexual assault-related claims against
employers, including the following: Smith v. Captain D’s, L.L.C., 963 So.2d 1116
(Miss.2007) (where employee alleged that she was raped by her manager at the
restaurant during working hours, her claims for sexual assault, negligent hiring,
retention, and supervision of her manager, did not fall within the scope of the
arbitration agreement that covered “any and all * * * disputes, or controversies
arising out of or relating to my employment” because agreement could not be
“construed as to encompass claims and parties that were not intended by the original
contract.”); Niolet v. Rice, 20 So.3d 31 (Miss.App.2009)(employee’s claims of sexual
assault and battery against her supervisor were not directly or indirectly related to
her employment); Jones v. Halliburton, 583 F.3d 228 (5th Cir.2009) (where
plaintiff alleged that she had been gang-raped, her claims for false imprisonment,
assault and battery, negligent supervision, hiring and retention, and intentional
infliction of emotional distress as the events did not arise within the scope of the
relationship); Doe v. Princess Cruise Lines, Ltd., 657 F.3d 1204 (11th Cir.2011)
(where plaintiff alleged that she was drugged and raped by coworkers, her claims
false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy,
spoliation of evidence, and fraudulent misrepresentation were not connected to, did
not relate to, did not arise out of her employment, and were not an immediately,
foreseeable result of the employment).
After undertaking this thorough analysis of the relevant issues, the
Arnold court concluded:
The complaint states that Arnold was constantly subjected to ongoing
verbal and unwanted physical conduct that culminated in rape. On
July 21, 2012, Arnold was cleaning the men/s restroom when Matthews
entered, grabbed Arnold by her hair, pushed her against the door and
forced her to give him oral sex. She has incurred and believes she will
continue to incur treatment for her medical and psychological injuries.
The complaint also states that Carrols had actual or constructive
knowledge of Matthews’ tendencies and that he posed a hazard.
The complaint further provides that Carrols and supervisor Matthews
retaliated or threatened to retaliate against Arnold, including
termination, due to her attempt to enforce her rights; that she suffered
unrelenting abuse, torment, harassment, threats, and embarrassment;
and that she will require medical care and psychiatric counseling. It is
also asserted that Carrols aided, abetted, incited, compelled, and
coerced others to engage in unlawful discriminatory practices and/or
interfere with or to obstruct Arnold.
Based on the underlying facts, we find that Arnold’s claims relating to
and arising from the sexual assault exist independent of the
employment relationship as they may be “maintained without
reference to the contract or relationship at issue.” Academy of
Medicine, 108 Ohio St.3d 185, 2006-Ohio-657, 842 N.E.2d 488, at
¶ 24; Fazio, 340 F.3d 386, at ¶ 395, and Winters Law Firm. L.L.C. v.
Groedel, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 99922, 2013-Ohio-5260, ¶ 14. Any
individual could assert the same causes of action based on the
The second step of our scope of agreement analysis is to inquire
whether the claims are a forseeable result of the employment. Doe, 657
F.3d at 1218-1219. We find that ongoing verbal and physical contact
culminating in sexual assault as well as retaliation, harassment, or
other detrimental acts against Arnold based on the unlawful conduct is
not a foreseeable result of the employment.
Id., 2015-Ohio-4485, 48 N.E.3d 69, ¶ 63-67.
Similarly, in this matter, the complaint states that Crider was
constantly subjected to ongoing verbal and unwanted physical conduct that
culminated in Hall entering her office and sexually assaulting her. The complaint
also states that GMRI had actual or constructive knowledge of Hall’s tendencies and
that he posed a hazard but was retained and not disciplined as his actions escalated.
The complaint further alleges that GMRI and Crider’s supervisor Lundeen retaliated
against Crider by terminating her and that they aided, abetted, incited, compelled,
and coerced others to engage in unlawful and discriminatory actions against her.
According to the complaint, GMRI also negligently and intentionally inflicted
emotional distress upon Crider, created a hostile work environment, and failed to
provide a safe work environment.
In accordance with the foregoing, we find that Crider’s claims relating
to and arising from the sexual assault exist independent of the employment
relationship because they may be “maintained without reference to the contract or
relationship at issue.” Academy of Medicine, 108 Ohio St.3d 185, 2006-Ohio-657,
842 N.E.2d 488, at ¶ 24; Fazio, 340 F.3d 386, at ¶ 395. In addition, we find that
ongoing verbal and physical contact culminating in sexual assault as well as
retaliation, harassment, or other detrimental acts against Crider based on the
unlawful conduct is not a foreseeable result of the employment.
GMRI insists, however, that under the clear terms of the arbitration
provision, the arbitrator has the authority to determine arbitrability. We disagree.
As set forth earlier, the parties cannot be compelled to arbitrate a dispute they have
not agreed to submit to arbitration. Natale, 2018-Ohio-1412, 110 N.E.3d 829, ¶ 9.
Although the arbitrator may determine if an employment-related dispute is
arbitrable, the initial determination of whether the particular claim is actually
employment-related or not is made by the court in accordance with its independent
duty to do so. Accord Shakoor v. VXI Global Solutions, Inc., 7th Dist. Mahoning
No. 14 MA 59, 2015-Ohio-2587, ¶ 48. Such issue is a type of “gateway issue” that is
to be decided by the judiciary. Id. at ¶ 41.
GMRI also argues that Crider’s employment-related claims should
proceed to arbitration. In opposition, Crider notes that GMRI has never produced
a copy of the agreement containing her signature, and alternatively, waived it by
failing to provide Crider with her remedies under the agreement.
It is well settled that an arbitration agreement will not be enforced if
the parties did not agree to the clause. Harmon v. Philip Morris Inc., 120 Ohio
App.3d 187, 189, 697 N.E.2d 270 (8th Dist.1997). In Harmon, the employer’s
alternative dispute resolution and arbitration programs required the employee, but
not the employer, to submit claims to arbitration. The employer gave the employee
the option of accepting the program or working elsewhere, and the employer also
reserved the right to terminate the program at any time. The employee
“acknowledged receipt” of pamphlets explaining the agreement. In concluding that
the employee was not required to arbitrate his claim for wrongful termination, this
court found no “acceptance” of the agreement, no mutuality, and no consideration.
Similarly, in Hardwick v. Sherwin-Williams Co., 8th Dist. Cuyahoga
No. 81575, 2003-Ohio-657, this court found lack of mutual assent to arbitrate where
the plaintiff neither signed or acknowledged receipt of the Problem Resolution
Procedures at the time of its distribution. Id. at ¶ 15. This court stated that the “mere
fact that the plaintiffs continued working for defendant in and of itself fails to
provide sufficient evidence of an agreement to be bound to arbitrate disputes”
through arbitration. Id. at ¶ 15.
Further, the right to arbitration is a matter of contract and can be
implicitly or explicitly waived. Bass Energy, Inc. v. Highland Hts., 193 Ohio App.3d
725, 2010-Ohio-2102, 954 N.E.2d 130, ¶ 33 (8th Dist.). Implicit waiver occurs where
the party fails to assert its right or participates in litigation “to such an extent that
its actions are ‘completely inconsistent with any reliance’ on this right, resulting in
prejudice to the opposing party.” Id., quoting Gen. Star Natl. Ins. Co. v.
Administratia Asigurarilor de Stat, 289 F.3d 434, 438 (6th Cir. 2002), and Gordon
v. OM Fin. Life Ins. Co., 10th Dist. Franklin No. 08AP-480, 2009-Ohio-814.
Here, there is no evidence that Crider signed the arbitration
agreement, and there is insufficient evidence that she otherwise manifested assent
to it. In any event, under the totality of the circumstances, GMRI proceeded directly
to termination, and did invoke any of the steps in the provision. GMRI acted
inconsistently with the terms of arbitration, thereby waiving it. Therefore, on this
record, we conclude that the trial court properly refused to enforce the arbitration
The assigned error is without merit.
Outcome: The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.