Justia Transportation Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Arbitration & Mediation
Namisnak v. Uber Technologies, Inc.
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order denying in part Uber's motion to compel arbitration of claims brought by plaintiffs under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Plaintiff alleged that Uber failed to provide a wheelchair-accessible ride-sharing option (uberWAV) in their hometown of New Orleans.The panel held that plaintiffs plausibly alleged sufficient facts to establish Article III standing where they sufficiently alleged an injury in fact under the "deterrent effect doctrine." The doctrine recognizes that when a plaintiff who is disabled within the meaning of the ADA has actual knowledge of illegal barriers at a public accommodation to which he or she desires access, that plaintiff need not engage in the futile gesture of attempting to gain access in order to show actual injury. In this case, plaintiffs have alleged that they are aware that Uber does not offer uberWAV in New Orleans; that they cannot use the Uber App because of its failure to offer uberWAV; that they plan to use the Uber App if it becomes wheelchair-accessible; and that they presently fear that they will encounter the mobility-related barriers which exist within Uber's Application and services. The panel also held that plaintiffs have plausibly alleged causation and redressability where plaintiffs' alleged injuries would not exist absent Uber's actions, and these injuries cannot be redressed without enjoining Uber to comply with the ADA. Finally, the panel held that equitable estoppel does not apply where plaintiffs' ADA claims are fully viable without any reference to Uber's Terms and Conditions. View "Namisnak v. Uber Technologies, Inc." on Justia Law
Singh v. Uber Technologies, Inc.
The Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. 1–16, places certain arbitration agreements on equal footing with all other contracts, requiring courts to enforce such agreements according to their terms. Section 2 provides that the FAA covers “a written provision in any maritime transaction or a contract evidencing a transaction involving commerce,” but section 1 states that “nothing” in the FAA “shall apply to contracts of employment of seamen, railroad employees, or any other class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce.” Singh brought this putative class action on behalf of New Jersey Uber drivers, alleging that Uber misclassified them as independent contractors rather than employees, which resulted in their being deprived of overtime compensation and incurring business expenses for Uber's benefit. Singh opposed a motion to compel arbitration, arguing that, to the extent that he had an agreement with Uber, it fell within the “any other class of workers” portion of section 1. The court dismissed, concluding that clause only extends to transportation workers who transport goods. The Third Circuit disagreed, citing its “longstanding precedent,” to hold that the residual clause of section 1 may extend to a class of transportation workers who transport passengers if they are engaged in interstate commerce or in work so closely related thereto as to be in practical effect part of it. The court remanded for resolution of the engaged-in-interstate-commerce inquiry. View "Singh v. Uber Technologies, Inc." on Justia Law
Muller v. Roy Miller Freight Lines, LLC
Defendant Roy Miller Freight Lines, LLC (RMFL) appealed a trial court order granting in part and denying in part its motion to compel its former employee, plaintiff William Muller (Muller), to arbitrate his wage and hour claims under the arbitration provision in his employment agreement. The trial court granted RMFL’s motion on all but one cause of action: Muller’s claim for unpaid wages, and stayed the prosecution of that remaining claim pending the completion of the arbitration. The issue this case presented for the Court of Appeal's review centered on whether the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) applied, and more specifically, whether Muller was a transportation worker engaged in interstate commerce under 9 U.S.C. 1 (section 1) and thus exempt from FAA coverage. If he was exempt from FAA coverage, as the trial court held, Muller did not have to arbitrate his cause of action for unpaid wages because Labor Code section 229 (section 229) authorized lawsuits for unpaid wages notwithstanding an agreement to arbitrate. If the FAA applied, as RMFL contended, the FAA preempted section 229, and Muller had to submit his cause of action for unpaid wages to arbitration, along with his five other causes of action. The Court found the trial court correctly concluded Muller was exempt from FAA coverage under section 1. Even though Muller did not physically transport goods across state lines, his employer was in the transportation industry, and the vast majority of the goods he transported originated outside California. Thus, section 229 required staying the prosecution of his cause of action for unpaid wages while the other five causes of action proceed to arbitration. View "Muller v. Roy Miller Freight Lines, LLC" on Justia Law
Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen v. Union Pacific Railroad Co.
The Unions represent engineers employed by the Railroad, which is an amalgamation of several carriers. As a result, the Railroad is a party to multiple collective bargaining Agreements (CBAs). The Railroad modified disciplinary rules; the new policy was set forth in “MAPS," and supplanted UPGRADE. The Railroad had previously made changes to UPGRADE over the Union’s objections. When it shifted from UPGRADE to MAPS it did not consult the Union. The Railway Labor Act, 45 U.S.C. 151–88 allows employers to change “rates of pay, rules, or working conditions of ... employees” in any way permitted by an existing CBA or by going through the bargaining and negotiation procedure prescribed in section 156. MAPS falls within the scope of “rules” and “working conditions.” The Railroad argued that the change was permitted under the CBA. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the Union’s suit. If a disagreement arises over the formation or amendment of a CBA, it is considered a “major” dispute under the Act, and it must be decided by a court. If it relates only to the interpretation or application of an existing agreement, it is labeled “minor” and must go to arbitration. In this case, there is at least a non-frivolous argument that interpretation of the agreement between the parties, not change, is at stake. View "Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen v. Union Pacific Railroad Co." on Justia Law
Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters, Local Union No. 50 v. Kienstra Precast, LLC
Illini Concrete formally ceased doing business in October 2009 and sold certain of its assets, including delivery trucks, to Kienstra. The Teamsters Local Union, which represents concrete mixer drivers and others employed by Illini and then by Kienstra, alleged that Kienstra laid off 14employees, declined to make good on Illini’s unfunded liability to its employees’ union pension fund, subcontracted work to competitors to avoid hiring back union employees,and refused to hear grievances regarding the asset sale and its effect on the employees. The Union claimed that the asset sale was a ruse to allow Illini to evade obligations under its collective bargaining agreement and sought a declaration that Kienstra is Illini’s alter ego, bound by the CBA. The district court denied motions to compel arbitration. Kienstra and Illini Concrete filed an interlocutory appeal. The Seventh Circuit dismissed for lack of appellate jurisdiction, citing the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. 1, which states that “nothing [in the FAA] shall apply to contracts of employment of seamen, railroad employees, or any other class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce.” View "Int'l Bhd. of Teamsters, Local Union No. 50 v. Kienstra Precast, LLC" on Justia Law
Bhd of Locomotive Eng’rs & Trainment v. Union Pac. R.R. Co.
The railroad fired a locomotive engineer, Narron. The union filed a grievance, which eventually came before the National Railroad Adjustment Board, which ordered the railroad to reinstate Narron with back pay but authorized the railroad to offset the back pay by any earnings that he had obtained between his firing and his reinstatement. The union filed a petition in the district court challenging that part of the award. The district judge remanded for determination of whether Narron had had any such earnings and ordered the earnings-offset provision vacated. The Seventh Circuit vacated the order, holding that the district court exceeded its authority. A district court may set aside a Board order only “for failure of the division to comply with the requirements of [the Railway Labor Act]” or “to conform, or confine itself, to matters within the scope of the division’s jurisdiction,” or “for fraud or corruption by a member of the division,” 45 U.S.C. 153. View "Bhd of Locomotive Eng'rs & Trainment v. Union Pac. R.R. Co." on Justia Law
Emswiler v. CSX Transp. Inc.
Emswiler sued his employer, CSX, a railroad, and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen after his seniority on the roster of train engineers was adjusted. Emswiler alleged breach of collective bargaining agreement, breach of duty of fair representation, and disability discrimination under Ohio law. The district court granted defendants summary judgment. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. The district court correctly determined it could not reach the merits of claims for breach of CBA and disability discrimination due to his failure to pursue arbitral mechanisms mandated by the Railway Labor Act, which governs disputes between management and labor in the railroad industry, 45 U.S.C. 151, 153. The RLA divides disputes into two categories: Major disputes concern the formation of collective bargaining agreements, whereas minor disputes deal with the interpretation of existing CBAs. This is a minor dispute. Emswiler’s claim for breach of duty of fair representation lacked merit. View "Emswiler v. CSX Transp. Inc." on Justia Law
McClendon, et al v. Union Pacific Railroad Co.
The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainment ("BLET") filed a claim with the Union Pacific Railroad Company ("UP") seeking reinstatement and backpay for a member of the BLET when UP terminated him while he was working under a governing collective-bargaining agreement between the UP and the United Transportation Union ("UTU"). At issue was whether the National Railroad Adjustment Board ("NRAB") properly dismissed the claim. The court affirmed the dismissal and held that the NRAB did not ignore the Article C-17 contract provision in the agreement while interpreting the contract; that the NRAB's interpretation of Article C-17 did not violate 45 U.S.C. 153 First (j); the NRAB acted well within its power by invoking a "claim-processsing" rule; the NRAB was well within its authority in construing the agreement as enunciating the "usual manner" in this workplace; once the NRAB determined that the agreement was controlling, the other agreements and bargaining history became largely irrelevant; and the district court did not abuse its discretion where discovery would not have justified setting aside the NRAB's interpretation of the agreement, nor would it have uncovered a due process violation by the NRAB.