Lingley v. Alaska Airlines, Inc.

In February 2012, Alaska Airlines terminated Helen Lingley, a longtime employee, for violating company rules and polices after she allegedly took earbuds from a left-on-board box, made contradictory statements during the ensuing investigation, and made discourteous comments about her coworkers. The terms and conditions of Lingley’s employment were governed by a collective bargaining agreement negotiated by Lingley’s union,the International Association of Machinists and AerospaceWorkers, pursuant to the federal Railway Labor Act (RLA). This agreement broadly incorporated Alaska Airlines’ rules and policies and gave the company the right to change those rules and policies at any time. Lingley sued Alaska Airlines for wrongful termination without first attempting to arbitrate her claims under the provisions of a collective bargaining agreement subject to the RLA. The superior court denied the Lingley leave to amend her complaint, concluding that her claims and proposed claims were precluded by failure to exhaust contractual remedies and were preempted by the RLA. The Supreme Court found the collective bargaining agreement did not clearly and unmistakably waive the Lingley's right to litigate her claims, a prerequisite to finding her claims precluded. "And a number of her proposed claims may have an independent state law basis that does not depend on an interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement; such claims would not be preempted by the Railway Labor Act." Accordingly the Court reversed the superior court order denying leave to amend. View "Lingley v. Alaska Airlines, Inc." on Justia Law