Oral argument: Oct. 7, 2009
Appealed from: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (Apr. 9, 2008)
RAILWAY LABOR ACT, ARBITRATION, COLLECTIVE BARGAINING, DUE PROCESS
Five railroad employees filed claims through their union, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (“Brotherhood”), contesting disciplinary charges imposed by the Union Pacific Railroad (“Railroad”). The National Railroad Adjustment Board dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction because the Brotherhood had failed to submit written evidence that the parties had met in conference. The District Court affirmed the Board’s decision. However, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed in favor of the Brotherhood. The Seventh Circuit found that the due process rights of the Brotherhood were denied, because it was not clear when and how evidence of conferencing should be presented, and dismissal for reasons that were not clear at the time of filing functioned as a denial of its due process rights. The Railroad subsequently appealed this decision to the Supreme Court arguing that because submission of evidence is solely within the arbitrator’s discretion, the Board’s award should be final and binding. In granting certiorari, the Supreme Court’s decision will test the scope of the federal government’s power to review arbitration disputes between private parties. The Court’s decision will also affect future labor disputes and collective bargaining agreements in the railroad industry.