In Washington State Court, two truck drivers brought wrongful termination claims in Washington State court against a large industrial company alleging that they had been fired in retaliation for asserting rights under the Washington State’s Minimum Wage Act and in violation of their union contract.  The truck drivers had already arbitrated their union grievance related to their termination, but the arbitration panel did not award the drivers any monetary damages although it ordered their reinstatement.
KYL removed the case to federal court because resolution of their claims required interpretation of the union contract, and thus, their claims arose under federal labor law.  KYL promptly moved for summary judgment dismissal because the claims were time-barred under federal labor law, and they also had been released by the truck drivers’ settlement agreement in a previous wage and hour lawsuit.  The trial court agreed, but the truck drivers appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, claiming they had an independent state law claim that survived both federal labor law preemption and the settlement agreement.  In an unpublished decision, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the truck drivers’ claims on all grounds.
Atkins et al. v. Praxair, Inc., Ninth Circuit Case No. 04-35849, May 26, 2006.
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