In Walker v. TA Operating, LLC et. al., Case No. 14-41046 (5th Cir. May 22, 2015), the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed an appeal of an employment discrimination case subject to an arbitration agreement due to lack of jurisdiction. In the underlying case, the district court granted the defendant’s motion to compel arbitration and administratively closed the case because the district court determined that the parties were subject to a valid and applicable arbitration agreement. The district court’s decision was dictated by the Federal Arbitration Act (the “FAA”), which grants district courts two powers: 1) the authority to issue an order directing that arbitration proceed in the manner provided for in such agreement; and 2) the authority to stay an arbitrable proceeding pending the outcome of the contractually-required arbitration. On appeal, the Fifth Circuit dismissed the cased due to lack of jurisdiction because an order by the district court administratively closing a case is tantamount to a stay, and bars appellate review. The Fifth Circuit explained that a district court has jurisdiction over final decisions of the district court and that Congress explicitly provided that appellate courts lack jurisdiction over a district court order granting a stay of any action under section 3 of the FAA or directing arbitration to proceed under section 4 of the FAA.
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