Submitted: March 8, 2017
from United States District Court for the District of
Minnesota - Minneapolis
BENTON, BEAM, and MURPHY, Circuit Judges.
BENTON, Circuit Judge.
Sullivan appeals the district court's denial of his
Amended Petition to Vacate Arbitration Award. Having
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, this court affirms.
petition seeks to vacate an arbitration award issued by a
System Board of Adjustment pursuant to the Railway Labor Act,
45 U.S.C. § 151, et seq. The RLA states:
"If any employee . . . is aggrieved by any of the terms
of an award . . . then such employee . . . may file in any
United States district court . . . a petition for review . .
. . On such review, the findings and order [of the Board]
shall be conclusive on the parties . . . ." 45 U.S.C.
§ 153(q). See United Paperworkers Int'l Union,
AFL-CIO v. Misco, Inc., 484 U.S. 29, 37-38 (1987)
("Because the parties have contracted to have disputes
settled by an arbitrator chosen by them rather than by a
judge, it is the arbitrator's view of the facts and of
the meaning of the contract that they have agreed to accept.
Courts thus do not sit to hear claims of factual or legal
error by an arbitrator . . . . To resolve disputes about the
application of a collective-bargaining agreement, an
arbitrator must find facts and a court may not reject those
findings simply because it disagrees with them.");
Hunt v. Northwest Air., Inc., 600 F.2d 176, 179 (8th
Cir.) (decisions of airline boards under section 184 have the
same legal characteristics and effect as those of the
railroad board under section 153), cert. denied, 444
U.S. 946 (1979). Although Sullivan disputes some of the facts
set forth in the award, they are "conclusive, " and
are the basis for the following facts.
was a pilot for a predecessor to Endeavor Air, Inc. from 2001
until his termination in December 2006. Endeavor's pilots
are represented by the Air Line Pilots Association,
International. The ALPA and Endeavor have a collective
bargaining agreement (CBA).
2006, Sullivan received "nondisciplinary counselings
about such things as being late for a flight, trying to
change out times to avoid a recorded late departure, and
appearance." He was never disciplined formally. On
October 17, 2006, Endeavor issued him two "Written
Letters of Warning, " for missing a flight and failing
to keep certifications current. He did not grieve either
warning; pursuant to the CBA, they became binding. Two weeks
later, Endeavor disciplined him for violating company dress
code and arriving late to a flight. It scheduled a meeting to
discuss these violations. He missed the meeting, but the
parties met the next day.
November 29, Endeavor gave Sullivan a "Final Written
Letter of Warning" about his "overall duty
performance, " including:
duty performance, poor decision-making causing delayed
flights, late arrival to the aircraft for showtime,
inappropriate use of the ACARS system, failure to remain
contactable, failure to report for meetings with company
management, unprofessionalism, and substandard uniform
letter stated his appearance and conduct had "fallen
below the standards expected of you" and cautioned that
"any further infractions against company policies and
procedures will result in additional disciplinary action up
to and including termination." He again did not grieve
the warning. It became binding.
December 10, Sullivan made at least two sexually explicit
comments to a female flight attendant. On December 11, he
showed up late for a flight. Two weeks later, Endeavor fired
him. In the termination letter, Endeavor cited his late
arrival to the December 11 flight and inappropriate comments
to the flight attendant in violation of the company's
grieved his termination to a three-member System Board of
Adjustment under the CBA. Arguing his termination was without
"just cause, " he contended: (1) his comments to
the flight attendant were not unlawful or violative of the
anti-harassment policy; (2) his conduct did not warrant
termination; and (3) Endeavor terminated him in retaliation
for complaints he made to the Federal ...