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Whether the National Labor Relations Board may require an individual employee to exhaust grievance procedures prior to filing an unfair labor practices charge, is governed by a two-step analysis. First is a determination whether Congress has directly spoken to the precise question at issue. If it has, then that intention is the law and must be given effect. If the statute is silent or ambiguous with respect to the specific issue, and if the agency's answer is based on a permissible construction of the statute, deferral is proper.
Petitioner Paul Hammontree was employed as a truck driver by intervenor Consolidated Freightways (“CF”). Petitioner's union reached an oral agreement with CF that CF would have posted departure times for short runs, but would have eliminated the seniority-based "choice of runs." Under a new collective bargaining agreement, the quid pro quo agreement exchanging departure times for seniority rights was not reduced to writing. Thereafter, CF stopped posting run departure times. Petitioner filed a grievance. Respondent National Labor Relations Board held that petitioner was required to exhaust the grievance procedures established by the collective bargaining agreement. On review, petitioner contended that such an exhaustion requirement was both inconsistent with respondent's authority and a departure from respondent's past policy.
Was the National Labor Relations Board permitted to require an employee to exhaust his grievance remedies prior to the filing of an unfair labor practice charge?
On review of respondent's order, the court found that the National Labor Relations Act and the Labor Management Relations Act did not preclude respondent from requiring petitioner to exhaust contractual grievance remedies before respondent heard a discrimination claim under 29 U.S.C.S. § 158(a)(3). Respondent's deferment policy was reasonable and was informed by a permissible construction of respondent's statutory obligations and respondent's order was wholly consistent with that policy. The court denied the petition for review.