United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
W. SIPPEL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before me on the parties' cross-motions for
summary judgment. Plaintiff Procter & Gamble (P&G)
moves to vacate an arbitration award (the Award) that
reinstated Nick Hassard, an employee who P&G had
previously terminated. P&G argues it is entitled to
vacatur of the Award because the arbitrator exceeded his
authority when he ordered P&G to reinstate Hassard.
Defendant Association of Employees of the St. Louis Plant
(the Union) moves for enforcement of the Award and argues
that the arbitrator acted within the scope of his authority
when he ordered P&G to reinstate Hassard. The parties do
not dispute the material facts at issue or that summary
judgment is proper in this case.
Hassard, a member of the Union, began working at P&G in
2005. On July 27, 2017, P&G discharged Hassard after a
series of disciplinary violations, the last of which was a
third failure to lock out and tag out (LOTO) energy from a
large piece of machinery a couple of days earlier. The final
violation arose when Hassard briefly “broke the
plane” of a machine without having followed the proper
LOTO procedure. Based on Hassard's previous violations,
the company moved Hassard to step four of its four-step
Progressive Discipline System (PDS). At step four of the PDS,
an employee is terminated. See Procter & Gamble
Manufacturing Company's Statement of Uncontroverted
Material Facts, ECF No. 24, at ¶5 (table outlining the
P&G terminated Hassard, the Union filed a grievance under
Article XIV of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that
governed the employment relationship between P&G and
Hassard. P&G and the Union did not resolve the grievance
internally. Because the grievance was not resolved, the
grievance was submitted the dispute to a Board of Arbitration
(the Board) according to the procedure in the governing CBA.
That procedure sets forth that P&G and the Union may each
appoint one arbitrator to the board, while the third
arbitrator is picked from a rotating panel of arbitrators
listed in the CBA. In this case, the third arbitrator was
Josef Rohlik (the Arbitrator), who also drafted the Award.
question the parties presented to the Board was “the
general question of whether or not the company had cause to
terminate [Hassard] and if not what the remedy should
be.” ECF No. 25-3, 21:15-19. After a hearing on
December 6, 2017, the Arbitrator submitted his draft Opinion
and Award to the arbitrators for P&G and the Union on
April 17, 2018. The Award found that P&G did not have
just cause to terminate Hassard, and it ordered
P&G to reinstate Hassard without back pay. The
Union's arbitrator, Michael Reilman, concurred in the
Award on April 23, 2018, making it final and binding on the
parties. See CBA, ECF No. 25-1, at 38 (page 34 in
original document) (“The decision of any two of the
three arbitrators shall be final and binding upon the
Employer and the Union.”). As of the cross-filings for
summary judgment in this case, P&G has not reinstated
judgment is appropriate when “there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Gilkerson v. Nebraska
Colocation Centers, LLC, 859 F.3d 1115, 1118 (8th Cir.
2017) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a)). At the summary judgment
stage, “[a]ll facts must be viewed in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party.” Id The
party seeking summary judgment bears the initial
responsibility of informing the court of the basis of its
motion and identifying those portions of the affidavits,
pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file which it believes demonstrates the absence
of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The nonmoving party
may not rest on his pleadings but must produce sufficient
evidence to support the existence of the essential elements
of his case on which he bears the burden of proof.
Id at 324.
court's review of an arbitration award is
“extremely limited.” United Food & Comm
Workers v. Shop ‘N Save Warehouse Foods, Inc., 113
F.3d 893, 894 (8th Cir.1997). Courts give “substantial
deference to labor arbitration awards because federal policy
favors the resolution of private labor disputes by
arbitration to which the parties agreed.”
Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. v. United Food &
Commercial Workers, 739 F.3d 1136, 1139 (8th Cir. 2014).
“[A]s long as the arbitrator is even arguably
construing or applying the contract and acting within the
scope of his authority, that a court is convinced he
committed serious error does not suffice to overturn his
decision.” Id at 1140 (quoting United
Paperworkers Intl Union v. Misco, Inc., 484 U.S. 29, 38
example, the court may not disturb the arbitrator's
'view of the facts.” Alvey, Inc. v. Teamsters
Local Union No. 688, 132 F.3d 1209, 1212 (8th Cir.1997).
Indeed, it may not revisit the merits of an award even if it
believes the arbitrator “committed serious error”
when interpreting the CBA at issue. United Paperworkers
Intl Union v. Misco, Inc., 484 U.S. 29, 38 (1987).
“An arbitrator's award must be enforced as long as
he is arguably construing or applying the collective
bargaining agreement rather than dispensing his own brand of
industrial justice.” Homestake Mining Co. v. United
Steelworkers of America, 153 F.3d 678, 680 (8th
Cir.1998) (internal quotation marks and brackets omitted).
That standard is met as long as the award “draws its
essence from” the governing CBA. IntT Paper Co. v.
United Paperworkers IntT Union, 215 F.3d 815, 817 (8th
determine whether vacatur is warranted in this case, I
consider two issues. First, I review the factual record and
the Award to determine whether the Arbitrator acted within
the scope of his authority based on the question the parties
presented to the Board. Second, I evaluate whether the Award
is “arguably construing or applying” the CBA
between the parties. Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica,
Inc., 739 F.3d at 1139.
The Award Did Not Exceed the Scope of the ...