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New Orleans Cold Storage and Warehouse Co. Ltd. v. Teamsters Local 270

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

August 15, 2017

NEW ORLEANS COLD STORAGE AND WAREHOUSE COMPANY LTD.
v.
TEAMSTERS LOCAL 270, ET AL.

         SECTION "B"(3)

          ORDER AND REASONS

         Before the Court are cross-motions for summary judgment filed by Plaintiff New Orleans Cold Storage and Warehouse Company, Ltd. and Defendants Teamsters Local 270 and Esau Taylor. Rec. Docs. 16-17. The parties timely filed opposition memoranda. Rec. Docs. 19-20. For the reasons discussed below, IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff's motion (Rec. Doc. 17) is DENIED.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendants' motion (Rec. Doc. 16) is GRANTED.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         This case arises out of the October 13, 2015 termination of Defendant Esau Taylor (“Taylor”) by his former employer, Plaintiff New Orleans Cold Storage and Warehouse Company, Ltd. (“NOCS”). Rec. Doc. 1-1 at ¶ 5. Taylor was employed under a Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”) between NOCS and Defendant Teamsters Local 270 (“the Union”). Id. at ¶ 4; see also Rec. Doc. 16-4.

         Article VII of the CBA, titled “DISCHARGE, ” provided that “[t]he Employer shall at all times possess and retain the right to hire and discharge, provided the discharge shall be for just cause.” Rec. Doc. 16-4 at 3 (emphasis added).

         Following Taylor's termination, the Union requested arbitration under the CBA. Rec. Doc. 1-1 at ¶ 6. Article X of the CBA, titled “GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE, ” provides:

         The jurisdiction of the arbitrator is limited to:

(a) Interpretation, application of the specific terms of this Agreement, and adjudication of issues arising out of the application of those specific terms, and
(b) A decision or award which is not contrary to, and in no way adds to, subtracts from or alters, the plain words of this Agreement as used in their most commonly understood meaning, and
(c) Reversing the decision of the Company in matters involving the fairness of discipline, discharge or change of status of an employee, only if it is found that the Company has acted arbitrarily and in violation of this Agreement.

Rec. Doc. 16-4 at 4 (emphasis added).

         The issue presented to the arbitrator, John Barnard, was stated as follows: “Was the termination of grievant Esau Taylor for just cause? If not, what is the proper remedy?” Rec. Doc. 16-5 at 2. After reviewing Article VII, the positions of both NOCS and the Union, and various documents (including the notice of termination, an email, and an unsigned handwritten note), the arbitrator determined that Taylor was allegedly terminated for insubordination. Id. at 7. He defined insubordination as an employee's failure to follow a reasonable order after being warned that failure to obey the order could subject the employee to discipline. Id. at 7-8. The arbitrator found that Taylor was never given a direct order. Id. at 8. He then noted that

The primary reason arbitrators have included certain basic due process rights within the concept of just cause is to help the parties prevent the imposition of discipline where there is a little or no evidence on which to base a just cause discharge. Thus, consideration of industrial due process as a component of ...

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