Union Contract Does Not Bar Worker’s Right to Sue for Unpaid Overtime

By April 19, 2003Articles

In Gregory v. SCIE, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a lawsuit filed by an employee who sought overtime under California state law. The trial court had dismissed the lawsuit for overtime wages based on SCIE’s defense that Gregory’s claim was preempted by federal law, as Gregory was a member of a stage union (IATSE) and covered by a collective bargaining agreement between IATSE and his employer SCIE.

Gregory alleged in his complaint that he routinely worked six days a week and sometime as much as 20.5 hours in a day without receiving any overtime. State law requires an employee to paid “for all overtime hours worked”, i.e., work in excess of 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a workweek.

Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Action preempts state court cases when the resolution of the case is dependent upon an analysis or interpretation of the terms of a collective bargaining agreement. Section 301 does not apply to claims that involve substantive rights under state law that can be resolved without interpreting a union contract. The court held that Gregory’s overtime claims did not require the interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement between IATSE and SCIE, and therefore his state law claims for OT was not barred by federal labor law.

For any questions or comments regarding this Labor Law Update please contact attorney Michael Daly of the Daly Law Firm at (619) 525-7000 or daly@dalylawfirm.co.

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