American Public Law Brief

Field pre-emption and Conflict pre-emption are classified as sub-categories of implied pre-emption. In the case of field pre-emption, the courts will infer an intention to preempt state law if the federal regulatory scheme is so pervasive as to "occupy the field" in that area of the law. In conflict pre-emption, the court voids state law in cases whereby it is impossible for the private party to adhere to both federal and state law or where state law stands in the way of accomplishing the intention and purpose of congress.

Finally is express pre-emption, where the federal statute explicitly states that it overrides state law. The starting point for the application of the doctrine of pre-emption is the fact that there is a basic presumption against pre-emption of state's police powers in the eyes of the court. 2 The court highlighted this by stating "because the states are independent sovereigns in our federal systems, we have long presumed that Congress does not cavalierly pre-empt state-law causes of action"3.

The threshold necessary to be overcome to prove this pre-emption is 'a clear and manifest purpose on the part of congress to pre-empt state law' which must be communicated by Congress. Without the fulfilment of this requirement, the court is unable find a law pre-empted by Congress. The statute in question here is the Airline Deregulation Act (ADA). Its predecessor, the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 allocated, to the Civil Aeronautics Bureau, the discretion needed to regulate interstate airfares and take action against fraudulent trade practices.

4 This put the running of airlines into a public utility-type regulatory regime. It gave CAB the authority over issues like comprehensive regulation of fares, mergers and entry of new companies into the air transport industry. The CAB had the jurisdiction over these issues with standards of public convenience and necessity left to its discretion. Critics of this system, quite visibly, pointed out the fact that the CAB effectively stifled competition in the industry. For instance, the board had fare policies which prevented competitive pricing.

Furthermore, as a result of the strenuous bureaucratic hurdle in the guise of a certification process, not one airline successfully entered into the domestic trunk industry despite several attempts. The regulatory crisis that started as a result of excess capacity on the airlines directed the political flashlight on the dealings of the CAB. 6 The Airline Deregulation Act was enactected with a its guiding purpose being to "encourage, develop, and attain an air transportation system which relies on competitive market forces to determine the quality, variety and price of air services...

". The Airline Deregulation Act contains a broadly worded express pre-emption against state law. This statute listed the creation of conditions for an "economically stronger and more competitive domestic airline industry" as a pointer of statutory purpose. The pre-emption clause states that 'No state... shall enact or enforce any law, rule, regulation, standard or other provision having the force and effect of law relating to rates, routes or services of any air carrier. '7

The ambit of the terms 'price, routes and services' according to the Airline Deregulation Act still remains contested despite the extensive case law on the issue. Nature of the Case The facts of the case are clear and not disputed by either of the parties. The plaintiff, Rachel Roberts is a single parent who was also, prior to her dismissal a flight attendant for the defendant, Brianair. In justifying the decision to terminate her employment, Brianair cites two incidents. The first incident occurred when Ms Roberts declined a request to extend her working hours because of flight delays caused by unexpected weather conditions.

This led to her receiving a formal warning that her lack of flexibility could lead to a possible dismissal. On this occasion, Brianair claims that it was forced to delay the flight for two extra hours in addition to the delay already incurred as a result of the weather. In the second incident, she notified her employers of a cancellation by her childminder and asked to be excused from reporting to work that day. In the second incident, Brianair was compelled to pay a replacement flight -attendant 1. 5 times Ms Roberts' usual wages.

On both cases, the incidents are undeniably related to her responsibilities as a single parent. She sought monetary damages under the Humber State Human Rights statue for an unlawful dismissal and an injunction requiring her employers, Brianair to provide a reasonable accommodation of her circumstances as a single parent. As there is no other remedy available to Ms Roberts, her claim is founded solely upon the provision of the Humber State statue which states "an employer may not discriminate against an individual on the basis of single parenthood.

" The Ruling by the District Court for Humber In the ruling by District Judge R. L Simpson, it was held that the state human rights statue was pre-empted under section 1305(a) (1) of the Airline Deregulation act. This decision was reached despite the fact Brianair conceded that the "reasonable accommodation" would have permitted the two actions taken by Ms Roberts without any consequences. In deciding the case, she made the following findings.