United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
CATHERINE D. PERRY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Abu Al-Mumin has been employed by defendants Lee Enterprises
Missouri and the St. Louis Post Dispatch since 2001.
Plaintiff is a union employee represented by the
Communication Workers of America, AFL-CIO, CLC, Local 14620,
which is a party to a collective-bargaining agreement with
the St. Louis Post Dispatch. Plaintiff, an African American
male, alleges race discrimination under the Missouri Human
Rights Act (MHRA) against his employer defendants and his
manager, defendant Norm Loraine. Plaintiff claims he was
treated differently in terms of his pay and work conditions
on the basis of his race. Plaintiff originally filed this
lawsuit in Missouri state court. Defendants removed the case
under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, contending this Court has
federal-question jurisdiction because plaintiff's MHRA
claims are completely preempted by § 301 of the Labor
Management Relations Act (LMRA), 29 U.S.C. §185.
Defendants maintain that plaintiff's claims are preempted
by the LMRA because they are substantially dependent on an
analysis of the collective-bargaining agreement (CBA)
governing the terms and conditions of plaintiff's
matter is before me now on plaintiff's motion to remand.
Plaintiff contends this case should be remanded as defendants
do not meet their burden of proof to show complete preemption
by the LMRA. Plaintiff argues his claims do not depend on the
CBA, but arise out of the MHRA because they turn on the
motives and intentions of his employers. In opposition,
defendants contend the CBA controls plaintiff's claims
because it contains provisions addressing wages, seniority
and job tasks.
conclude this case is about racial discrimination in
violation of the MHRA. Defendants have not shown that
plaintiff's claims are “inextricably
intertwined” with or substantially dependent on an
analysis of the CBA. As defendants have not met their burden
to establish federal jurisdiction based on complete
preemption by the LMRA, I will grant plaintiff's motion
parties removing this action, defendants have the burden of
establishing federal jurisdiction. McNutt v. Gen'l
Motors Acceptance Corp., 298 U.S. 178, 189 (1936);
Hartridge v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co., 415
F.2d 809, 814 (8th Cir. 1969); Sullivan v. First
Affiliated Secs. Inc., 813 F.2d 1368 (9th Cir. 1987).
Moreover, all doubts about removal must be resolved in favor
of remand because removal statutes are strictly construed
against removal. See Shamrock Oil and Gas Corp. v.
Sheets, 313 U.S. 100 (1941); Hubbard v. Federated
Mut. Ins. Co., 799 F.3d 1224, 1227 (8th Cir. 2015).
“If at any time before final judgment it appears that
the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the
case shall be remanded.” State of Missouri ex rel.
Pemiscot County, Missouri v. Western Sur. Co., 51 F.3d
170, 173 (8th Cir. 1995); In re Business Men's
Assurance Co. of Am., 922 F.2d 181, 183 (8th Cir. 1978)
defendant may remove a civil action from state to federal
court only if the action originally could have been filed in
federal district court. See 28 U.S.C. §
1441(a). “Absent diversity of citizenship,
federal-question jurisdiction is required.”
Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392
(1987). “The presence or absence of federal-question
jurisdiction is governed by the ‘well-pleaded complaint
rule, ' which provides that federal jurisdiction exists
only when a federal question is presented on the face of the
plaintiff's properly pleaded complaint.”
Id. This rule means plaintiffs generally may avoid
federal jurisdiction if they rely exclusively upon state law.
Id. Furthermore, “[d]efendants are not
permitted to inject a federal question into an otherwise
state law claim and thereby transform the action into one
arising under federal law.” Central Iowa Power Coop
v. Midwest Transmission System Operator, Inc., 561 F.3d
904, 912 (8th Cir. 2009) (internal quotations and citations
corollary to the well-pleaded complaint rule, however, is the
“complete preemption rule.” The complete
preemption doctrine holds that when Congress intends the
preemptive force of a statute to be so extraordinary that it
completely preempts an area of state law, any claim
purportedly based on that preempted state law is considered
from its inception, a federal claim, and therefore arises
under federal law. Caterpillar, 482 U.S. at 393. The
“complete preemption” rule applies only in
limited circumstances. Cochran v. Union Pac. R. Co.,
No. 10-0512-CV-W-FJG, 2010 WL 3398841, at *1-2 (W.D. Mo. Aug.
argues that his claims are not preempted by the LMRA because
he does not rely on rights created by the CBA or an
interpretation of the CBA's terms.
301(a) provides that “[s]uits for violation of
contracts between an employer and a labor organization
representing employees in an industry affecting commerce ...
may be brought in any district court of the United States
having jurisdiction of the parties.” 29 U.S.C. §
185(a). The Supreme Court has said that § 301(a) is
“more than jurisdictional, ” however, in that it
“authorizes federal courts to fashion a body of federal
law for the enforcement of these collective bargaining
agreements.” Textile Workers Union of Am. v.
Lincoln Mills of Ala., 353 U.S. 448, 451, (1957).
[T]he subject matter of section 301(a) is peculiarly one that
calls for uniform law. The possibility that individual
contract terms might have different meanings under state and
federal law would inevitably exert a disruptive influence
upon both the negotiation and administration of collective
agreements.... [W]e cannot but conclude that in enacting
§ 301 Congress intended doctrines of federal labor law
uniformly to prevail over inconsistent local rules.
Local 174, Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen &
Helpers of Am. v. Lucas Flour Co., 369 U.S. 95,
103-04, (1962) (internal quotation marks and citations
omitted). Accordingly, “[s]ection 301 governs claims
founded directly on rights created by collective-bargaining
agreements, and also claims ‘substantially dependent on
analysis of a collective-bargaining agreement.'”
Williams, 482 U.S. at 394 (quoting Int'l
Bhd. of Elec. Workers, AFL-CIO v. Hechler, 481 U.S. 851,
859 n.3 (1987)).
dispute here is whether plaintiff's racial discrimination
claims against defendants are substantially dependent on an
analysis of the CBA, for if a state-law claim is inextricably
intertwined with consideration of the terms of the labor
contract, it is preempted. See Allis-Chalmers Corp. v.