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A state-law tort action against an employer may be preempted by § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C.S. § 185. Courts apply a two-part test to determine whether such claims are preempted, examining whether the tort claims (1) are premised on duties created by the relevant collective bargaining agreement (CBA) such that they are based on the agreement, or (2) require interpretation of the CBA such that they are "dependent upon an analysis of the agreement.
In these consolidated appeals, the National Football League (NFL), Dr. John Lombardo, Independent Administrator of the Policy on Anabolic Steroids and Related Substances, and Adolpho Birch, the NFL's Vice President of Law and Labor Policy, appealed the district court's order, concluding that the Minnesota statutory claims alleged by Kevin Williams and Pat Williams of the Minnesota Vikings (collectively, "the Players") are not preempted by section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act ("section 301" or "LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 185. The Players cross-appealed the district court's order concluding that their Minnesota common law claims are preempted by section 301. In addition, the National Football League Players Association (the "Union"), the certified collective bargaining representative of all NFL players, appeals the district court's order confirming the arbitration awards which upheld the Players' suspensions.
Were the players' claims under Minnesota's Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace Act preempted by LMRA?
The court agreed that the players' claims under Minnesota's Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace Act, Minn. Stat. §§ 181.950-181.957, were not preempted by LMRA because the players alleged the violation of nonnegotiable state law rights that did not require the court to interpret the CBA. The players' Consumable Products Act, Minn. Stat. § 181.938, claim was not preempted because it also did not require the court to interpret the CBA; further, it was not waived by the union's having agreed to certain drug testing procedures and discipline under the CBA. The players' Minnesota common law claims were preempted by LMRA because they were inextricably intertwined with the CBA. The arbitration awards were enforceable under the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C.S. § 10(a).