Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Federal Labor Relations Authority

PETITIONER: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
RESPONDENT: Federal Labor Relations Authority
LOCATION: Playtime Theatres, Inc.

DOCKET NO.: 84-1728
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 476 US 19 (1986)
ARGUED: Jan 22, 1986
DECIDED: Apr 29, 1986

Carolyn B. Kuhl - on behalf of Petitioner
Ruth E. Peters - on behalf of Respondent

Facts of the case


Media for Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Federal Labor Relations Authority

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 22, 1986 in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Federal Labor Relations Authority

Warren E. Burger:

Ms. Kuhl, I think you may proceed whenever you're ready.

Carolyn B. Kuhl:

Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court.

The issue in this case is whether a Government employee union can require a Government agency to bargain over, and therefore to make a subject of grievance arbitration, a proposal that would give the union the right to enforce the provisions of Circular A-76.

The court below held that a Government employee union can enforce the circular, but this result is anomalous.

A-76 is a management directive.

It flows from the authority of the President to manage the budget and to manage the Executive Branch, and it implements the President's economic policies.

The circular itself expressly reserves to the President and to his delegates the authority to enforce the circular.

But the decision below turned enforcement of the A-76 directive and of the President's management authority, and in turn the interpretation of the directive, over to arbitrators, with review perhaps only by the Federal Labor Relations Authority, perhaps no judicial review.

This result is not only contrary to the express language of the circular, but it also interferes with the authority of the President to give directives to his subordinates and to enforce those directives in his own way.

It should not be assumed that Congress would have intended this anomalous result and this disruptive result, absent some clear statutory authority.

But on the contrary, the statute in fact requires no such solution.

Let me try to condense here very quickly the statutory provisions that are at issue.

All the parties agree that Title 7 of the Civil Service Reform Act gives management the right to make determinations with respect to contracting out, and all parties also agree that the only constraint on that management right is that it be... that is, the only constraint that's at issue in this case... is that the right to contract out be exercised "in accordance with applicable laws".

So that the question for decision is whether the phrase A-76.

The first and most important reason why the A-76 is not a law at all.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Well, Ms. Kuhl, suppose that we agreed that the circular is not a law for purposes of Section 7106.

Does that end the case, or do we still have to determine whether non-compliance with the circular is the subject of a grievance under the Act notwithstanding whether it's included in a collective bargaining agreement?

Carolyn B. Kuhl:

That ends the inquiry in our view, Justice O'Connor.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

What is the inquiry?

If you say it's not a law under 7106?

Carolyn B. Kuhl:

That's correct.

If you say it's not a law, that ends the inquiry, because--

Sandra Day O'Connor:

I thought your opponent says it doesn't, because in any event it's grievable under the Act.

Carolyn B. Kuhl:

--That's right.

But it's our submission that the language of 7106, which says nothing in this chapter shall interfere with management rights, that that applies to not only the negotiability issue, but also to the grievability issue, and the Respondents have not presented any reason why Congress would nave said nothing in this chapter when in fact it meant nothing relating to bargainability or negotiability.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

I take it, though, that you take the position that under Section 7117(a)(1)--

Carolyn B. Kuhl:


Sandra Day O'Connor:

--the circular is a rule or regulation?

Carolyn B. Kuhl:

Well, of course the language there is a bit different.

It doesn't say "laws".