United Parcel Service, Inc. v. Mitchell

PETITIONER:United Parcel Service, Inc.
LOCATION:Highway 80 and Nelson Road

DOCKET NO.: 80-169
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 451 US 56 (1981)
ARGUED: Feb 24, 1981
DECIDED: Apr 20, 1981

Bernard G. Segal – on behalf of the Petitioner
David Jaroslawicz – on behalf of the Respondent

Facts of the case


Media for United Parcel Service, Inc. v. Mitchell

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – February 24, 1981 in United Parcel Service, Inc. v. Mitchell

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – April 20, 1981 in United Parcel Service, Inc. v. Mitchell

William H. Rehnquist:

In the second of the two cases, United Parcel Service versus Mitchell, the respondent was employed by petitioner United Parcel Service which fired him for falsifying timecards and claiming payment for hours he did not work.

Respondent’s union and UPS were parties to a collective bargaining agreement which provided a grievance and arbitration procedure for the resolution of disputes covered by the agreement, and respondent requested his union to invoke the procedure on his behalf in order to contest his discharge.

The respondent, the employee’s claim was eventually submitted to a joint employee union arbitration panel which upheld the discharge.

Seventeen months later, respondent filed a lawsuit in federal court against the union and United Parcel Service alleging that the discharge was in violation of the collective bargaining agreement and the union breached its duty of fair representation when it represented his case to the joint arbitration panel.

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York dismissed the suit, ruling that it was barred by the 90-day New York statute of limitations for actions to vacate an arbitration award.

The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed hold — ruling that the court should have been said — used the six-year statute of limitations in New York for actions for breach of contract.

We agree with the District Court and reversed the Second Circuit.

Since no statute of limitations is provided by Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act under which respondent brought his suit, we must borrow the most closely analogous state statute of limitations.

We think respondent’s suit is more closely analogous to an action to vacate an arbitration award than it is to an action for breach of contract.

Respondent’s suit in federal court raise the same claim as he raise before the arbitration panel and it sought the same relief.

The predicate for how a respondent’s federal court suit against his employer is not simply a breach of the collective bargaining agreement but under our decision in Hines against Anchor Motor Freight a breach by the union of its duty a fair representation.

Furthermore, labor dispute should be resolved as quickly as possible and this policy makes borrowing the 90-day limitation period for actions where it is analogous to the action brought more appropriate than borrowing the six-year period for contract actions keeping labor disputes open for as long as six years undermines the grievance and arbitration procedure through which the terms of a collective bargaining agreement are given meaning.

Justice Blackman has filed a concurring opinion.

Justice Stewart has filed an opinion concurring in the result and Justice Stevens has filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you, Justice Rehnquist.