Court: State and federal law are not mutually exclusive

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Minnesota employers, has revived a lawsuit against a union for allegedly violating a state disability discrimination law. The case had been tossed by a lower court on the grounds that only the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) applied.

Recent case: Bryce, who has Crohn’s disease, earned a union apprentice job. However, when he submitted a doctor’s note explaining his illness, the union quit sending him on assignments, effectively ending his apprenticeship.

Bryce sued under state disability discrimination law, arguing he had been cut from the program because of a disability. The union argued he could only sue under the NLRA.

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, concluding that the federal labor law did not entirely block states from also enforcing laws protecting workers from discrimination. (Markham v. Westin, 8th Cir., 2017)