14 Penn Plaza LLC v. Pyett

Supreme Court Decision in 14 Penn Plaza LLC v. Pyett


The United States Supreme Court handed a clear win for employers in 14 Penn Plaza LLC v. Pyett. Members of the Service Employees International Union, were employed to provide security services to a New York City office building owned and managed by 14 Penn Plaza. A provision in the collective bargaining agreement prohibited discrimination, but stated “all such claims shall be subject to the [applicable] grievance and arbitration procedures… as the sole and exclusive remedy for violations.”

After some of the Union employees were reassigned to different responsibilities the Union alleged that these reassignments were based on unlawful age discrimination and violated provisions of the collective bargaining agreement. The Union filed complaints of age discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and ended up in federal court. The building owner wanted the court to compel arbitration.

The Supreme Court concluded that a union may bargain for a mandatory arbitration provision related to individual employment rights. As a result, the Court gutted the precedent set in its 1974 decision, Alexander v. Gardner-Denver. That case concluded that a collective bargaining agreement could not waive covered workers’ rights to a judicial forum. This new Penn Plaza Court decision distinguished Gardner-Denver by stating that the collective bargaining agreement provision at issue in Penn Plaza expressly covered both statutory and contractual discrimination claims.

The use of collective bargaining agreements is outside my area of expertise, but this case caught my eye because it involved a commercial property owner and its union employees.

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Reference Info:Decision | Federal, U.S. Supreme Court | United States

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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