Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Staudner v. Robinson Aviation, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

December 7, 2018

PATRICK P. STAUDNER, Plaintiff - Appellant,
v.
ROBINSON AVIATION, INC.; PROFESSIONAL AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS ORGANIZATION, Defendants - Appellees.

          Argued: September 27, 2018

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, at Greenville. Terrence W. Boyle, Chief District Judge. (4:15-cv-00098-BO)

          Tracy Humphrey Stroud, COLOMBO, KITCHIN, DUNN, BALL & PORTER, LLP, Greenville, South Carolina, for Appellant.

          Lance Michael Geren, FREEDMAN & LORRY, PC, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for Appellee Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization. Michael Coghlan Lord, WILLIAMS MULLEN, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellee Robinson Aviation, Inc.

          Before DIAZ, THACKER, and HARRIS, Circuit Judges.

          Judge Harris wrote the opinion, in which Judge Diaz and Judge Thacker joined.

          PAMELA HARRIS, CIRCUIT JUDGE

         Patrick Staudner brought suit under § 301(a) of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185(a), alleging that his union and his former employer breached the collective bargaining agreement that governed his employment. Specifically, he claims that his former employer wrongfully terminated him, and that his union breached its duty of fair representation in its handling of his resulting grievance.

         The district court found that the collective bargaining agreement required Staudner to exhaust the agreement's grievance procedures before filing suit in federal court, and that Staudner had failed to do so. Interpreting this exhaustion requirement as a prerequisite to its jurisdiction over the case, the district court dismissed Staudner's action. We find that the district court erred in two respects: first, in treating exhaustion as a matter of jurisdiction; and second, in holding that this collective bargaining agreement in fact required exhaustion. Accordingly, we reverse.

         I.

         A.

         Patrick Staudner worked for Robinson Aviation, Inc., as an air traffic controller for fourteen years. During that time, he regularly received successful performance reviews. According to Staudner, however, toward the end of his tenure, his relationship with his direct supervisor soured. Staudner contends that the resulting personal animosity caused Robinson Aviation to fire him in November 2014 - roughly a month after his latest successful performance review. Robinson Aviation justified Staudner's termination by pointing to a number of minor breaches of airport policy: Staudner parked (partially) in the wrong spot, did not stop when entering the parking lot, and did not lock his car. Robinson Aviation also indicated that Staudner twice failed to lock the air traffic control tower following a shift, allegations that Staudner denies.

         Under the collective bargaining agreement negotiated between Robinson Aviation and Staudner's union, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization, Staudner may be terminated only "for just cause." J.A. 38. Because Staudner believes that his supervisor fired him for personal reasons, and that Robinson Aviation's stated reasons are pretextual, he argues that his termination violated the collective bargaining agreement. For support, Staudner points to his consistently positive performance reviews, as well as his supervisor's admission that he had never before disciplined an employee for failing to park in the correct spot or lock his car.

         Staudner filed a grievance to appeal his termination under the four-step process set out by the collective bargaining agreement. As described by the agreement, the first three steps involve filing written grievances with Robinson Aviation officials of escalating authority, culminating with a decision from ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.