Farmer v. Carpenters

LOCATION:United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare

DOCKET NO.: 75-804
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: State appellate court

CITATION: 430 US 290 (1977)
ARGUED: Nov 08, 1976
DECIDED: Mar 07, 1977

G. Dana Hobart – for petitioner
Leo Geffner – for respondents
Norton J. Come – for N

Facts of the case


Media for Farmer v. Carpenters

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – November 08, 1976 in Farmer v. Carpenters

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – March 07, 1977 in Farmer v. Carpenters

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion of the Court in 75-804, Farmer against the United Brotherhood of Carpenters will be announced by Mr. Justice Powell

Lewis F. Powell, Jr.:

This case is here on certiorari from the Court of Appeals of California.

The petitioner, a member of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, brought suit in state court against this union and some of its officials.

He alleged discrimination with respect to job referrals in the hiring hall.

He also claimed to have been subjected to a campaign of personal vilification and harassment.

In his state tort action, a jury awarded petitioner substantial damages on the theory under California law have intentional infliction of severe emotional distress.

The California Court of Appeals reversed.

It concluded that a state court had no jurisdiction to entertain petitioner’s tort claim.

It held that the National Labor Relations Act preempts this type of suit brought by a union member against the union and its officials.

In an opinion filed today with the clerk of the Court, we disagree with the California Court of Appeals.

We do not think Federal labor law has preempted all tort claims under state law.

The opportunity for interference with the federal scheme of regulation is not sufficient in a case of this kind to conclude that Congress intended to vest exclusive jurisdiction in the Labor Board.

In this case however, we do not reinstate the jury verdict.

We think the way in which this case was tried and particularly, the instructions to the jury did impose a risk of undue interference with the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board.

We therefore vacate the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remand the case for further proceedings not inconsistent with our opinion.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Powell.