Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
Supreme Court of the United States
November 17, 1966, Argued ; February 27, 1967, Decided
[*173] [***848] [**907] MR. JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court.
On February 13, 1962, Benjamin Owens filed this class action against petitioners, as officers and representatives of the National Brotherhood of Packinghouse [**908] Workers 1 and of its Kansas City Local No. 12 (the Union), in the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri. Owens, a Union member, alleged that he had been discharged from his employment at Swift & Company's (Swift) Kansas City Meat Packing Plant in violation of the collective bargaining agreement then in force between Swift and the Union, and that the Union had "arbitrarily, capriciously and without just or reasonable reason or cause" refused to take his grievance with Swift to arbitration under the fifth step of the bargaining agreement's grievance procedures.
[****6] Petitioners' answer included the defense that the Missouri courts lacked jurisdiction because the gravamen of Owens' suit was "arguably and basically" an unfair labor practice under § 8 (b) of the National Labor Relations Act (N. L. R. A.), as amended, 61 Stat. 141, 29 U. S. C. § 158 (b), within the exclusive jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). After a jury trial, a verdict was returned awarding Owens $ 7,000 compensatory and $ 3,300 punitive damages. The trial judge set aside the verdict and entered judgment for petitioners on the ground that the NLRB had exclusive jurisdiction [*174] over this controversy, and the Kansas City Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court of Missouri reversed and directed reinstatement of the jury's verdict, 2 relying on this Court's decisions in International Assn. of Machinists v. Gonzales, 356 U.S. 617, and in Automobile Workers v. Russell, 356 U.S. 634. 397 S. W. 2d 658. During the appeal, Owens died and respondent, the administrator of Owens' estate, was substituted. We granted certiorari to consider whether exclusive jurisdiction [****7] lies with the NLRB and, if not, whether the finding of Union liability and the relief afforded Owens are consistent with governing principles of federal labor law. 384 U.S. 969. The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), Swift, and the United States have filed amicus briefs supporting petitioners. Although we conclude that state courts have jurisdiction in this type of case, we hold that federal law governs, that the governing federal standards were not applied here, and that the judgment of the Supreme Court of Missouri must accordingly be reversed.
In mid-1959, Owens, a long-time high blood pressure patient, became sick and entered a hospital on sick leave from his employment with Swift. After a long rest during which his weight and blood pressure were reduced, Owens was certified by his family physician as fit to resume his heavy work in the packing [****8] plant. However, Swift's company doctor examined Owens upon his return and concluded that his blood [***849] pressure was too high to permit reinstatement. After securing a second authorization from another outside doctor, Owens returned to the plant, and a nurse permitted him to resume work [*175] on January 6, 1960. However, on January 8, when the doctor discovered Owens' return, he was permanently discharged on the ground of poor health.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
386 U.S. 171 *; 87 S. Ct. 903 **; 17 L. Ed. 2d 842 ***; 1967 U.S. LEXIS 2873 ****; 55 Lab. Cas. (CCH) P11,731; 1 Empl. Prac. Dec. (CCH) P9767; 64 L.R.R.M. 2369
VACA ET AL. v. SIPES, ADMINISTRATOR
Prior History: [****1] CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF MISSOURI.
Disposition: 397 S. W. 2d 658, reversed.
grievance, arbitration, fair representation, collective bargaining agreement, damages, breached, courts, cases, unfair labor practice, breach of contract, bargaining, exhaust, grievance procedure, wrongful discharge, individual employee, remedies, breach of duty, Relations, contract remedy, statutory duty, pre-emption, employees, reasons, meritorious, exclusive jurisdiction, good faith, breach-of-contract, arbitrarily, contractual, suits
Labor & Employment Law, Collective Bargaining & Labor Relations, Duty of Fair Representation, Employment Relationships, Employment Contracts, Breaches, Enforcement of Bargaining Agreements, Civil Procedure, Justiciability, Exhaustion of Remedies, Contractual Remedies, Labor Arbitration, Discipline, Layoffs & Terminations, General Overview, Enforcement of Bargaining Agreements, Exhaustion of Remedies, Business & Corporate Law, Duties & Liabilities, Causes of Action & Remedies, Breach of Contract, Unfair Labor Practices, Wrongful Termination, Defenses, Enforcement, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Arbitration, Contracts Law, Breach