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The right of contribution by way of a suit for breach of the collective bargaining agreement under the jurisdictional authorization in § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, codified at 29 U.S.C.S. § 185, exists, if at all, only by implication. In assessing the maintainability of a party's claim for such an implied right, the claimant must first establish its standing to maintain that claim. In order to meet the requirement, the claimant must show that it was intended to be a beneficiary under the statute or under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.
Eight female employees ("plaintiffs") filed this action against their employer PPG Industries, Inc. ("PPG" or "defendant") for relief initially only under Title VII but by amendment under the Equal Pay Act also. The claim of the plaintiffs was that PPG had established a discriminatory employment job classification structure under which female employees were paid less in some classifications than male employees in another classification, though the requirements of skill, qualifications, responsibilities and efforts were comparable in both classifications. It was the plaintiffs' contention that such discrimination violated both Title VII and the Equal Pay Act. By way of remedy, the plaintiffs sought in their amended complaint injunctive relief and "back pay" under their Title VII count and "liquidated damages under the Equal Pay Act" count. This appeal concerns procedural motions by PPG. PPG sought by motion to add the International Chemical Workers' Union and Local No. 45 of the Union (collectively, "the Unions") as parties defendant and for leave to file a third-party complaint against the Unions, seeking contribution from them for any award against it in this Title VII and Equal Pay Act suit. The district judge granted the motion to add the Unions as parties defendant but only "for the limited purpose of fashioning any necessary equitable relief related to the collective bargaining agreement." The district court dismissed the motion for leave to file the third-party complaint on the ground that there was "neither an implied right to contribution nor a federal common-law right to contribution" in either Title VII or Equal Pay actions; nor could such a suit for contribution be maintained under the collective bargaining agreement between the Union representing PPG employees and PPG. PPG petitioned for an interlocutory appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b) to review these rulings. The Unions joined in the motion. The interlocutory appeal was granted.
Did the employer have standing to claim, as the intended beneficiary, breach of the collective bargaining agreement?
The court affirmed the dismissal of the claim under the collective bargaining agreement and held that a claim of liability under an assumed implication of a federal common law right of contribution by virtue of § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, codified at 29 U.S.C.S. § 185, did not meet the requirements for a cross complaint under Fed. R. Civ. P. 14(a) because it was not derivative of, dependent on, and secondary to the employees' Title VII and Equal Pay actions. The court held that the employer did not have standing to claim, as the intended beneficiary, breach of the collective bargaining agreement because the provisions in the agreement were to protect the victims of alleged discrimination, not the perpetrators.