The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that a plaintiff’s collective bargaining agreement did not provide the exclusive remedy for her sex discrimination claim. Ibarra v. United Parcel Serv., No. 11-50714 (5th Cir. Sept. 13, 2012), available at http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions/pub/11/11-50714-CV0.wpd.pdf.
After being fired, the plaintiff filed a grievance under her union’s collective bargaining agreement challenging her termination. In this grievance, she did not allege sex discrimination. After her grievance was denied, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that her former employer sexually discriminated against her. The district court concluded that the collective bargaining agreement required the plaintiff to submit her discrimination claim to the grievance process outlined in the agreement. It granted summary judgment for the employer.
On appeal, the Court examined whether the collective bargaining agreement clearly and unmistakably required union members to submit discrimination claims to the grievance process. It determined that the agreement did not because the agreement contained no express waiver of a judicial forum for claims brought pursuant to the federal discrimination statute. The Court vacated the district court’s grant of summary judgment.
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