Bactes Imaging Solutions employee’s sexual harassment claim goes to arbitration

NEW ORLEANS — An employee of a medical records company can pursue her sexual harassment claim, but only through arbitration, a federal judge ruled.

In the Aug. 28 order, Judge Martin L. C. Feldman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana denied Bactes Imaging Solutions request to dismiss the sexual harassment lawsuit. But the judge did grant the company’s motion to compel arbitration.

Katherine Gautier and her husband, Don Barcelona, alleged that Gautier’s immediate supervisor at Bactes Imaging Solutions sent her “inappropriate texts and emails” and retaliated against her for refusing his sexual advances. She further claimed that the defendant violated her rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act “by asking work-related questions while she was on leave.”

In his decision, Feldman pointed out a 2016 arbitration agreement that Gautier signed before working for the company. That agreement states arbitration “shall be the exclusive forum for resolving all disputes arising out of involving employee’s employment with Bactes.”

Ms. Gautier opposed the motion and asserted the arbitration clause was “unconscionable,” because the “adverse party was her prospective employer and she had to sign it to be employed,” citing the “power dynamic was too skewed in favor of Bactes that she could not have consented.”

Feldman ruled the agreement was clear.

“It is not concealed in any way,” the judge wrote.

“The case is stayed pending the completion of arbitration,” Feldman wrote. “This case is closed pending completion of arbitration.”

U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, Civil Action No. 18-1435