In Hogue v. Sky Financial Group, Inc., No. 02:07cv0108, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20918 (W.D.Pa. March 23, 2007), the employee handbook contained notice that any disputes arising out of termination of employment would be subject to arbitration. Hogue was granted intermittent FMLA leave in April 2004. He was granted FMLA leave again in September 2004, with a planned return date of October 12, 2004. He subsequently called and notified his employer that he would be unable to return to work until January 31, 2005. His employer notified Hogue that it could not hold his position open, and that if there were no comparable positions available at the time he was available to return to work, he would be terminated. He was subsequently terminated.
Hogue filed suit alleging that his termination violated the FMLA. The employer moved for summary judgment to dismiss the matter. The employer argued that the dispute was subject to arbitration pursuant to the employee handbook. Hogue, the employer argued, also failed to timely invoke arbitration within 90 days as required by the arbitration agreement. The Court agreed to dismiss the suit.
The Court noted that the employee handbook specifically provided for arbitration as the sole means for employees to "contest discharge" and explained that the parties agreed to arbitrate "disputes concerning termination of employment." Hogue, the Court observed, claimed that he was discharged in violation of the FMLA. According to the Court, "[t]his claim falls within the scope of the arbitrating provision and is, therefore, subject to dismissal in favor of arbitration." Absent jurisdiction, the Court declined to address the employer's argument that Hogue was precluded from arbitrating the matter because he failed to timely invoke arbitration within the time frame (90 days) provided in the employee handbook.