Air Line Pilots Association v. Miller Page 16

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Media for Air Line Pilots Association v. Miller

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 23, 1998 in Air Line Pilots Association v. Miller

Antonin Scalia:

He does under Hudson.

See, that's the very point of... the point.

Until a member has the facts, he doesn't know whether he should spend the money to hire a lawyer and bring a lawsuit, and one of the points of Hudson was, we put the burden, as you say, squarely on the union to assemble the facts, but not only its own version of the facts, but also those of an independent verifying that version.

And if they've done that, presumably then the employee has a basis for judging whether or not he's been short-changed, and if he has, he's free to sue.

You see, the difference between this arbitration and all others is the member is not bound by the arbitration in any way.

He hasn't agreed to anything, so he's totally free to sue once he gets the facts.

The question is whether we should ask him to wait till he gets the facts before he sues.

Raymond J. LaJeunesse, Jr.:

I return Your Honor to the principle that this Court has followed consistently, which is that you cannot just as a matter of judicial discretion require exhaustion unless--

John Paul Stevens:

But it's not exhaustion.

The opinion itself says he need not exhaust.

There's no requirement of exhaustion on the member, as you put it correctly.

All he has to do is complain and he has his cause of action.

He can sue.

He doesn't like the arbitration.

He starts from scratch.

He at least has the facts before he files his complaint.

That's all we held.

Raymond J. LaJeunesse, Jr.:

--Your Honor, he doesn't have the facts, because the notice that the... Hudson requires--

John Paul Stevens:

He has the union's version of the facts verified by an independent appraisal.

Now, whether that... he doesn't have to accept it, but he at least has that much, and then he decides whether--

Raymond J. LaJeunesse, Jr.:

--I'm not sure I understand you, Justice Stevens.

You're saying the employee merely states an objection, the union holds its arbitration ex parte, and then the employee can go to court.

I don't see the purpose of that.

Stephen G. Breyer:

--How does it work when a union official complains that the employer... not... sorry, when an employee thinks the employer is trying to censor him or something, or he thinks that the employer should have given him an excuse... it's related to his religion or something.

I mean, there can be thousands of grievances.

Don't people have to go through the grievance procedure?

Raymond J. LaJeunesse, Jr.:

But they've agreed to go through the grievance procedure.

The union is their agent for purposes of their--

Stephen G. Breyer:

Oh, I see.

Raymond J. LaJeunesse, Jr.:

--relationship with their employer.