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Beware union pact allowing arbitration and lawsuits

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Watch out if a union represents some of your employees, and the union contract does not bar federal discrimination lawsuits. A federal court has ruled that unless there’s a provision making arbitration the exclusive remedy, employees can simultaneously pursue arbitration and litigation.

Recent case: Aaron Jackson claimed that his employer, O.K. Gro­cery Co., interfered with his right to take FMLA leave and then fired him. Because Jackson’s union contract allows it, the employer and union began the arbitration process. But Jackson also sued in federal court on the exact same issues.

Because the union contract did not say arbitration is binding or that it is the sole remedy for discrimination complaints, a court said it would allow Jackson’s lawsuit to go forward. (Jackson v. O.K. Grocery, No. 11-0231, WD PA, 2011)

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