United States District Court, Southern District of Illinois, Benton Division
October 9, 1985
JONNA T. LINGLE, PLAINTIFF,
NORGE DIVISION OF MAGIC CHEF, INC., A DELAWARE CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Foreman, Chief Judge:
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Before the Court is defendant's Motion to Dismiss for lack of
jurisdiction and plaintiff's response thereto.
This one count complaint for retaliatory discharge was
originally brought in State Court. Plaintiff claims that she was
terminated from her job by the defendant for exercising her
rights under the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act.
Ill.Rev.Stat. ch. 48, § 138.1 et seq. Defendant argues that
plaintiff's claim is governed by a collective bargaining
agreement requiring grievance and arbitration of the dispute, and
that under the National Labor Relations Act (LMRA), any state law
remedies which plaintiff may have are preempted. The Court agrees
with the defendant.
In determining the issue of preemption, this Court is guided by
the recent United States Supreme Court decision in Allis-Chalmers
Corp. v. Lueck, ___ U.S. ___, 105 S.Ct. 1904, 85 L.Ed.2d 206
(1985). In Allis-Chalmers the Court was faced with the issue of
whether the tort of handling an insurance claim in bad faith was
preempted by § 301 of the LMRA*fn1 where the plaintiff was
subject to a collective bargaining agreement providing for
certain grievance procedures. In making its determination, the
Court set out certain guidelines for courts to follow when faced
with similar issues regarding the preemptive effect of § 301. One
policy which the Court was concerned with effectuating was the
need for uniform federal interpretation of contract phrases found
in collective bargaining agreements. As stated by the Court,
issues relating to "what the parties to a labor contract agreed,
and what legal consequences were intended to flow from breaches
of that agreement" should be resolved by a uniform body of
federal law. 105 S.Ct. at 1911. If the tort claim is
"inextricably intertwined with consideration of the terms of the
labor contract" or "purports to define the meaning of the
contract relationship" then that tort is preempted. Id. at 1912.
The Illinois Supreme Court has recognized a tort for
retaliatory discharge despite the existence collective bargaining
agreement provisions mandating grievance and arbitration of
disputed discharges. Midgett v. Sackett-Chicago, Inc., 105 Ill.2d 143,
85 Ill.Dec. 475, 473 N.E.2d 1280 (1984). The Illinois Court
did not address the issue of preemption, however, noting that it
was not raised in the trial or appellate courts. Id. 85 Ill.Dec.
at 480, 473 N.E.2d at 1285.
Applying the standards announced by the Court in
Allis-Chalmers, it is abundantly clear that the plaintiff's claim
is preempted. There can be little doubt that plaintiff's claim
for retaliatory discharge is "inextricably intertwined" with the
collective bargaining provision prohibiting wrongful discharge or
discharge without just cause. It is equally clear that such a
tort claim would effect the "legal consequences [which] were
intended to flow from breaches of [the] agreement." The parties
have agreed to abide by the orderly mechanism for grievance of
wrongful discharge claims as set out in the collective bargaining
agreement. Allowing an independent tort action for retaliatory
discharge would undermine the mutually agreed upon procedures
provided for in that agreement. See Midgett, 85 Ill.Dec. at
481-82, 473 N.E.2d at 1286-87 (Ryan, J., dissenting). Recovery of
punitive damages is also a possibility where plaintiff brings an
action for retaliatory discharge. Such extraordinary damages
clearly are not legal consequences which were intended to flow
from the breach of the agreement. Thus, this Court holds that
plaintiff's claim for retaliatory discharge is preempted by § 301
of the LMRA.*fn2 Accord Johnson v.
Hussmann Corporation, 610 F. Supp. 757 (E.D.Mo. 1985).
Since plaintiff's claim is essentially a § 301 claim, the Court
finds dismissal is required due to plaintiff's failure to exhaust
his administrative remedies. Republic Steel Corporation v.
Maddox. 379 U.S. 650, 85 S.Ct. 614, 13 L.Ed.2d 580 (1965). The
grievance/arbitration provisions of the collective bargaining
agreement provide the exclusive procedure for resolving disputes
between the parties. There is no indication that the union has
breached its duty of fair representation in this matter, (See
Republic Steel, 379 U.S. at 652, 85 S.Ct. at 616.) or that
plaintiff's claim falls within any other exception to the
exhaustion rule. See D'Amato v. Wisconsin Gas Co., 760 F.2d 1474,
1488-89 (7th Cir. 1985).
Accordingly, defendant's Motion to Dismiss is hereby GRANTED.
Plaintiff's complaint is hereby DISMISSED.
IT IS SO ORDERED.