Federal: Retaliatory Discharge Action Not Dependent Upon CBA

Federal: Retaliatory Discharge Action Not Dependent Upon CBA

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that a former employee's state court, state-law, retaliatory discharge claim under the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act (IWCA), was not a “disguised action under the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C.S. § 185, so as to allow removal. The court acknowledged that the U.S. Supreme Court had held that § 301 of the LMRA preempts all state-law claims that require the interpretation of a CBA or any other covered labor contract. Such cases are understood to arise under federal law from their inception.  On the other hand, while complete preemption sweeps away many state-law theories and re-classifies them as federal, it has its limits, said the court.  The court noted that the resolution of a retaliatory discharge claim rested on a factual dispute.  It required examining the employee's conduct and the employer's conduct and motivation, none of which required consulting the applicable CBA. The employer contended that a settlement agreement between the parties made it clear that the employment separation was voluntary on the plaintiff’s part.  The court said things were not nearly so clear; referring to a separation as a "permanent layoff without recall rights" did not sound “voluntary” to the court.  Based on the foregoing, the court held that the plaintiff’s case was not within the territory that Congress carved out to be governed exclusively by federal rules in § 301.

Reported by Thomas A. Robinson, J.D.

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See Crosby v. Cooper B-Line, Inc., 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 16372 (7th Cir., Aug. 7, 2013)  [2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 16372 (7th Cir., Aug. 7, 2013)]

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 104.07 [104.07]

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law.

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