Justices weighed the right of individual workers to file age discrimination suits against the certainty a contract provides employers and unions that the cases will be settled in arbitration.
December 1, 2008
In a case presented Monday, December 1, the Supreme Court considered whether employees can pursue discrimination cases in court even if a collective bargaining agreement mandates that they go to arbitration.
The justices weighed the right of individual workers to file age discrimination suits against the certainty a contract provides employers and unions that the cases will be settled in arbitration, which is considered faster and less costly than court proceedings.
The case revolves around workers employed by Temco Services Industries, a contractor that works in buildings owned by the Pennsylvania Building Co. and 14 Penn Plaza LLC. They were covered by the collective bargaining agreement between the Service Employees International Union and the multi-employer association of the New York City real estate industry.
Several of the Temco workers allege their jobs as night watchmen were taken away and they were reassigned to less desirable positions in August 2003 when Temco contracted with Spartan Security. They said that they were the only people on staff over the age of 50 and filed an age discrimination grievance.
But their union did pursue the wrongful transfer or age discrimination complaints in arbitration. Under the collective bargaining pact, arbitration was mandatory for discrimination claims.
In May 2004, the workers filed discrimination charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, asserting that their rights had been violated under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.
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