Barrentine v. Arkansas-Best Freight System, Inc.

PETITIONER: Barrentine
RESPONDENT: Arkansas-Best Freight System, Inc.
LOCATION: White House

DOCKET NO.: 79-2006
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

CITATION: 450 US 728 (1981)
ARGUED: Jan 13, 1981
DECIDED: Apr 06, 1981

ADVOCATES:
David C. Vladeck - on behalf of the Petitioners
S. Walton Maurras - on behalf of the Respondents

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Barrentine v. Arkansas-Best Freight System, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 13, 1981 in Barrentine v. Arkansas-Best Freight System, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - April 06, 1981 in Barrentine v. Arkansas-Best Freight System, Inc.

Warren E. Burger:

The judgments and opinion of the Court in Barrentine against Arkansas-Best Freight System will be announced by Justice Brennan.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

This case is here on certiorari to the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

Petitioners are truckdrivers employed by the respondent trucking company.

The trucking company does not pay its drivers for time spent conducting a pretrip safety inspection of the trucks they drive or for time spent driving the trucks that fail inspection to repair shop for repairs.

The drivers' union submitted a wage claim for the driver's pretrip inspection and transportation time to a joint grievance committee for binding arbitration pursuant to a collective-bargaining agreement.

The joint grievance committee rejected the drivers' claim.

The drivers then individually filed an action in Federal District Court alleging that the pretrip inspection and transportation time was compensable under Section 6 of the Fair Labor Standards Act or alternatively under Section 4 of the Portal-to-Portal Act Amendments to that Act.

The District Court dismissed the suit and the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed.

The Court of Appeals held that the drivers' voluntary submission of their wage clam grievance to arbitration barred them from asserting their statutory wage claims in the subsequent court action.

We reversed.

We hold that the Fair Labor Standards Act rights the drivers seek to assert are independent of any collective-bargaining rights under the collective-bargaining agreement.

No statutory rights devolve on the drivers as individual workers, not as members of the union and are not waivable.

While Court should differ to an arbitral decision where the employees' claim is based on rights arising out of the collective-bargaining agreement, different considerations apply where the employees' claim is based on rights arising out of a statute such as the Fair Labor Standards Act designed to provide minimum substantive guarantees to individual workers as individual workers.

The Chief Justice dissents and joined by Justice Rehnquist has filed a dissenting opinion.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you, Justice Brennan.