Adjunct Law Prof Blog

Editor: Mitchell H. Rubinstein
New York Law School

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

In post-Pyett ruling, union member need not arbitrate ADA claims

Kravar v Triangle Services, Inc, ___F.Supp.2d___(S.D.N.Y. May 12, 2009), is also an important post-Pyett decision to be aware of. The court holds that an employer could not compel an employee to arbitrate her ADA claims pursuant to the arbitration provisions of a collective bargaining agreement that gave a union sole discretion over whether to arbitrate the union member’s claims.
The employee, an SEIU member, was covered under a bargaining agreement which requires union members to submit all claims to binding arbitration. In fact, the arbitration clause at issue here was “identical in all material respects” to the clause under review in Pyett. However, the union declined to request arbitration, thereby precluding the plaintiff from any avenue to redress her claims of disability discrimination and retaliation. The union’s action constituted a substantive waiver of the member’s federally protected rights and, as such, “falls within an exception to the enforceability of a union-negotiated arbitration agreement. “There is little question [under Pyett] that if [the] union prevented her from arbitrating her disability discrimination claims, the CBA’s arbitration provision may not be enforced as to her.” Accordingly, the court denied the employer’s motion to compel arbitration pursuant to the bargaining agreement.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

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