The Partner and New York Life agree that any dispute, claim or controversy arising between them, including those alleging employment discrimination (including sexual harassment and age and race discrimination) in violation of a statute (hereinafter "the Claim"), as well as any dispute as to whether such Claim is arbitrable, shall be resolved by an arbitration proceeding administered by the NASD in accordance with its arbitration rules.
Bosse was New York Life's first African-American District Agent. The agents he hired were racially diverse. According to Bosse, that racial diversity provoked a strong reaction of racial animus and discrimination from some New York Life associates. As a result, Bosse alleges that the company: failed to process and underwrite insurance applications submitted by Bosse and his agents; engaged in back billing that undermined Bosse and his agents; and "stole or drove away" agents Bosse hired to work in his office. Compl. ¶ 41. Bosse further alleges that the company treated him differently than similarly situated New York Life District Agents who were white, and failed to investigate the disparate treatment complaints he made.
On January 15, 2016, New York Life terminated Bosse's District Agent Contract, purportedly based on inaccuracies found in the electronic application process related to a particular client. Bosse contends that the termination was retaliatory, that the reasons given by New York Life for termination were pretextual, and that his contract was actually terminated based on racial discrimination. He further contends that, following termination, New York Life defamed him to his New York Life clients, many of whom then ceased doing business with him.
The Partner's Agreement upon which defendants rely was terminated in 2005 when Bosse transitioned back to an Agent's position. However, the Partner's Agreement is unambiguous in providing that the arbitration clause survives termination of that agreement. Bosse notes that the facts and circumstances that gave rise to this suit occurred over 12 years after the Partner's Agreement expired, while he was working as an independent contractor under two different agreements with the defendants, neither of which included an arbitration obligation. He argues that, even if the arbitration clause "survived termination" of the Partner's Agreement, it cannot reasonably be applied to these claims because they are completely unrelated and unconnected to the Partner's Agreement, and because they arose so long after termination of that contract.
[A]rbitration clause is so expansive that it literally covers any conceivable dispute that might arise between the contracting parties at any time in the future, and under any set of facts or circumstances. Under that reading, Bosse's current claims would be covered. They are, after all, disputes with New York Life, and they have arisen in time, and both the nature of the disputes and the time of accrual, or assertion, are unimportant given the expansive language used. The language used also excludes any "relatedness" requirement. That is, there are no words used that explicitly limit the clause's application to only those disputes bearing some relationship to or having some connection to the contract in which it is found. The arbitration provision, by its terms, purports to apply to "any dispute, claim or controversy arising between" the parties.
Such a broad interpretation, however, is problematic for several reasons. First, as the Supreme Court has noted, "[t]he object of an arbitration clause is to implement a contract, not to transcend it." Litton Fin. Printing Div., a Div. of Litton Bus. Sys., Inc. v. N.L.R.B., 501 U.S. 190, 205 (1991). No reasonable person in either Bosse's position or New York Life's position would have understood the 2004 Partner's Agreement arbitration provision (and survival provision) to require arbitration of any and all future claims of whatever nature or type, no matter how unrelated to the Partner's Agreement, and no matter how distant in the future the claim arose. For example, a reasonable person signing the Partner's Agreement would hardly think that a slip and fall injury suffered by plaintiff on New York Life property 30 years in the future, and 25 years after any work or other relationship terminated, would be subject to arbitration under that particular clause. Defendants' current position - that the Partner's Agreement obligates the parties to arbitrate any and every dispute between them, no matter what it is and no matter when it arises - is unbounded to the point of absurdity. Defendants' proffered construction of the arbitration clause would not only transcend the purpose and terms of the Partner's Agreement, but would operate to deprive employees of all future rights to either a jury trial or court resolution of completely unrelated matters arising generations in the future.
Bosse alleges that James Robbins, New York Life's Director of Operations for the New Hampshire Office, used his position to influence other New York Life employees, including, but not limited to, New York Life Compliance Office and Senior Associate, Nicholas Inglese, past Managing Partner of New York Life's New Hampshire Office, Steven Irish, and others, in a civil conspiracy to intentionally deprive Bosse of his right to equal protection under the law." Compl. ¶ 132. In support of that allegation, Bosse asserts that Robbins, Irish and Inglese:(1) delay[ed] processing orders for Mr. Bosse and his new agents who depended on that income; (2) maliciously den[ied] Mr. Bosse advance commissions, thereby taking away his income and livelihood; (3) allow[ed] New York Life agents working out of the New Hampshire office to take clients from Mr. Bosse to give [the white agents] a chance, and/or forcing Mr. Bosse to share his commissions with white agents;" (4) attribute[ed] the credit of hiring new and experienced agents groomed by Mr. Bosse to white agents; (5) causing multiple withdrawals from client accounts without Mr. Bosse's advance knowledge, causing those clients to cut ties with Mr. Bosse; and (6) publicly and privately disparaging or allowing others to publicly and privately disparage Mr. Bosse's diverse ethnic agents, including but not limited to, using racial slurs when referring to them. Compl. p. 3. . . .
Page 18 of the DNH Order
expressed doubt about applying the doctrine outside the antitrust context. See, Stathos v. Bowden, 728 F.2d 15, 20-21 (1st Cir. 1984) ("We doubt that this 'intracorporate' exception should be read broadly. The cases employing it have rested in large part on precedent drawn from the antitrust field."). On the other hand, however, the court has applied the principle in a case not much different than this one. . .