Walz v. United Parcel Service, Inc.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER - The Plaintiff Paul Walz's Objection to Removal and Request for Remand to State Court (Filing No. 9 ) is denied. Ordered by Chief Judge Laurie Smith Camp. (AOA)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEBRASKA
UNITED PARCEL SERVICE, INC.,
CASE NO. 8:13CV250
This matter is before the Court on the Objection to Removal and Request for
Remand (Filing No. 9) submitted by Plaintiff Paul Walz (“Walz”).
For the reasons
discussed below, the Objection will be denied, and the action will progress in this Court.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
For purposes of the pending Objection, the Court accepts as true all well-pled facts
in Walz’s Complaint (Filing No. 1-1), although the Court need not accept his conclusions
of law. The following is a summary of those factual allegations.
Walz is a resident of Omaha, Nebraska, who was employed by the Defendant
United Parcel Service, Inc. (“UPS”) for approximately thirty-one years, prior to his
termination on June 7, 2013. At all times material to this action, his employment was
governed by a Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”) between UPS and the
International Brotherhood of Teamsters, including a supplemental agreement governing
the Central Region of the Teamsters. The CBA contained provisions governing holidays
and vacation leave.
Walz made certain false entries in connection with delivery times, and UPS
terminated his employment for “dishonesty.” Upon his termination, UPS refused to pay
Walz for accumulated leave. Walz filed his Complaint against UPS in the District Court of
Douglas County, Nebraska, alleging a violation of the Nebraska Wage Payment and
Collection Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. § 48-1228 et seq. (“NWPCA”), and seeking unpaid wages
for himself in the amount of $17,501.72, the same amount for Nebraska’s Common School
Fund, attorney fees, costs, and expenses.
The parties briefs (Filing Nos. 10, 12, and 13) show there is no dispute that Walz’s
termination for “dishonesty” was upheld following his grievance under the CBA, and his
request for payment of unused vacation leave was denied by UPS because the CBA
provided that employees discharged for dishonesty forfeit any such payments.
UPS removed the action to this Court, asserting that Section 301 of the Labor
Management Relations Act (“LMRA”), 29 U.S.C. § 185(a), preempts Walz’s state law claim.
UPS argues that Walz’s claim is really a claim for violation of the CBA, or at least
requires interpretation of the CBA, and 29 U.S.C. § 185(a) provides:
Suits for violation of contracts between an employer and a labor organization
representing employees in an industry affecting commerce as defined in this
chapter, or between any such labor organizations, may be brought in any
district court of the United States having jurisdiction of the parties, without
respect to the amount in controversy or without regard to the citizenship of
Considering the effect of 29 U.S.C. § 185(a) on state-law claims, the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has said:
The Supreme Court construes § 301 of the LMRA to preempt state law
claims where the resolution of the state law claim “substantially depends” on
the interpretation of terms or provisions of a collective bargaining agreement.
If the state law claim is “inextricably intertwined with consideration of the
terms of the labor contract,” that claim is preempted. If the claim is not
“inextricably intertwined” with a collective bargaining agreement, that claim
is independent and is not preempted.
Hanks v. Gen. Motors Corp., 906 F.2d 341, 343 (8th Cir. 1990) (internal citations omitted).
Walz acknowledges that claims involving an interpretation of a CBA are completely
preempted by the LMRA. (Plaintiff’s Brief, Filing No. 10, at 3.) He contends, however, that
there is no need for interpretation of the CBA in this case. He argues that his claim under
the NWPCA is independent of the CBA and “can be pursued without referencing any
language of the CBA,” with the possible exception of certain benefit accrual provisions that
are not susceptible to more than one interpretation. (Id. at 2.)
The NWPCA requires employers to pay former employees any “unpaid wages”
within a certain period of time following separation. The term “wages,” includes fringe
benefits such as vacation pay “when previously agreed to and conditions stipulated have
been met by the employee[.]” Neb. Rev. Stat. § 48-1229 (3) and (4) (Reissue 2004).
The question of whether Walz has any right to payment from UPS under the
NWPCA will substantially depend on an interpretation of the CBA. His state law claim is
“inextricably intertwined” with consideration of the terms of the CBA, and is preempted by
29 U.S.C. § 185(a). This Court has federal subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1331.
IT IS ORDERED that the Plaintiff Paul Walz’s Objection to Removal and Request
for Remand to State Court (Filing No. 9) is denied.
DATED this 15th day of November, 2013.
BY THE COURT:
s/Laurie Smith Camp
Chief United States District Judge
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