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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Alfredo Chavelle worked for Phelps Dodge Magnet Wire Company (Phelps Dodge) as a mechanic. Chavelle sustained a job-related injury and filed a worker’s compensation claim. Almost a year later, he was laid off due to slow work. Phelps Dodge fired two other mechanics at the same time. Two of the three, including Chavelle, were over the age of 60. After being granted the right by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commsission, Chavelle filed suit against Phelps Dodge alleging retaliatory discharge in violation of Texas Labor Code Chapter 451 and age discrimination in violation of Texas Labor Code Chapter 21. Phelps Dodge filed a motion to compel arbitration, claiming that the company policy (Problem Solving Procedure or PSP) provided for arbitration through a company appeal board or professional arbitrator. The trial court denied the motion. Phelps Dodge then sought a writ of mandamus from the trial court’s order. HOLDING:Relief denied. Phelps Dodge contends that the PSP constitutes an arbitration agreement because it allows employees to complain to an appeal board or, at the company’s election, to a professional arbitrator. The handbook provides that PSP is the exclusive procedure for resolving employment disputes, including violations of state or federal law. The court notes that Chavelle signed an acknowledgment form that stated that he understood that “the Company and I agree to be bound by the Open Door Policy and Problem Solving Procedure as set forth in this Associate Handbook (including the final and binding effect of such procedures).” Chavelle, however, argues that review by the appeal board is not arbitration because a panel composed exclusively of Phelps Dodge employees is not a panel of impartial arbitrators. Phelps Dodge counters that review by the appeal board is arbitration because 1. the parties are allowed to select their own arbitrators; 2. under federal law partisan arbitrators are permissible; and 3. the format of the appeal board mirrors the Texas Labor Code. The court states that the main issue is whether the PSP constitutes an arbitration agreement or merely an internal grievance procedure. The court reviews the structure of Phelps Dodge’s appeal board and concludes that the PSP is not an arbitration agreement but rather a procedure for resolving internal grievances. The court emphasizes that the PSP does not allow parties to select arbitrators of their own choosing, the pool of arbitrators consists solely of Phelps Dodge employees, and the agreement does not mirror the Texas Labor Code. Because the court concludes there is no agreement to arbitrate, it denies mandamus relief. OPINION:McClure, J.; Barajas, C.J., McClure, and Chew, JJ.

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