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Title Reiff v. Calumet City

February 3, 2011


Name of Assigned Judge Blanche M. Manning Sitting Judge if Other or Magistrate Judge than Assigned Judge



For the reasons stated below, the court rejects Calumet City's assertion that the plaintiff's claims must be arbitrated. The defendants are given until February 22, 2011, to answer or otherwise plead. Status set for March 1, 2011 at 11:00 a.m.

O[ For further details see text below.]



The plaintiff sued Calumet City in state court alleging various claims relating to her termination for violating the Calumet City residency requirement. On August 30, 2010, Calumet City removed the case from the Circuit Court of Cook County and then filed a motion to dismiss and/or compel arbitration. The court set a briefing schedule and, when the plaintiff did not respond, dismissed the case because it believed that the case had been arbitrated. It had not and so the court granted the plaintiff's motion to vacate the dismissal. Because disputes still existed as to which, if any, of the plaintiff's claims should be arbitrated, the court directed the parties to file position papers on the issue, which they have done. To the extent that the defendants argue that the plaintiff's claims should be dismissed for failure to state a claim, those arguments are not addressed in this order and should be the subject of a separate motion.

The plaintiff's complaint alleges claims for indemnification (Count I), wrongful termination based on her complaints of discrimination and union activity (Count II), § 1983 based on her allegation that the residency requirement is applied in a discriminatory manner (Count III), § 1983 based on her allegation that she was denied due process prior to her termination (Count IV) and a declaratory judgment on the constitutionality of the residency requirement (Count V). She asserts that none of these claims should be resolved in the upcoming arbitration.

The defendants, however, argue that all of the claims are arbitrable. Specifically, they first note that the relevant Collective Bargaining Agreement provides for the termination of employment when the residency requirement is violated. In addition, the CBA states that "[a]ll contested discipline and discharge of non-probationary bargaining unit members shall be processed through the grievance procedure contained in Article VII of this Agreement." CBA at Section 6.3, p. 7, attached as Exh. A to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss or Compel Arbitration, Dkt. #13-2. The grievance procedure includes several steps, the last of which is binding arbitration. It appears undisputed that the union filed a grievance on the plaintiff's behalf when she was terminated and that the parties have agreed to arbitrate her claim that she was wrongfully terminated due to a violation of the residency requirement.

"An explicit, clear statement in a CBA that all claims, including statutory claims, are to be pursued through arbitration is enforceable and precludes a federal lawsuit to enforce such statutory rights." Manuele v. City of Springfield, Ill., 718 F.Supp. 2d 939 (C.D. Ill. 2010) (citations omitted). See also National Ass'n of Broadcast Employees & Technicians-Communications Workers of America, No. 09 C 3854, 2009 WL 4172765 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 24, 2009) ("As a general matter, courts favor arbitration and should require it 'unless it may be said with positive assurance that the arbitration clause is not susceptible of an interpretation that covers the asserted dispute.'") (citation omitted).

Nevertheless, "[p]arties are only required to arbitrate disputes they agreed to arbitrate." International Broth. of Elec. Workers, Local No. 51, AFL-CIO v. Verizon North, Inc., No. 07-3194, 2008 WL 5111227, at *3 (C.D. Ill. Dec. 3, 2008)(citing United Steelworkers of Am., AFL-CIO v. Warrior & Gulf Navigation Co., 363 U.S. 574, 582, 80 S.Ct. 1347, 4 L.Ed.2d 1409 (1960)). See also Dunnigan v. City of Peoria, Ill., No. 09-1064, 2009 WL 2566958, at *3 (C.D. Ill. Aug. 14, 2009) ("Gardner-Denver stands for the proposition that 'arbitration [is] not preclusive [of statutory claims if] the collective-bargaining agreement did not cover statutory claims.'") (quoting 4 Penn Plaza LLC v. Pyett, --- U.S. ----, ----, 129 S.Ct. 1456, 1469, 173 L.Ed.2d 398 (2009)).

Here, as noted by the plaintiff, Section 17.1 of the CBA, entitled "Prohibition Against Discrimination," states that:

In the application and implementation of the terms of this Agreement, the Employer and the Union agree neither will discriminate against any employee on the basis of race, sex, creed, religion, color, sexual preference, marital (including parental) status, age (over 40), national origin, or mental ...

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