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Clark-Williams v. Local 689, Amalgamated Transit Union

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

April 21, 2014

ISHMAEL CLARK-WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
LOCAL 689, AMALGAMATED TRANSIT UNION, et al., Defendants

Page 362

For Ishmael Clark-Williams, Plaintiff: John Edward Williams, LEAD ATTORNEY, LAW OFFICES OF JOHN E. WILLIAMS, Esq., Alexandria , VA.

For Wmata, Defendant: Gerard Joseph Stief, WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREA TRANSIT AUTHORITY, Washington , DC.

For Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, Defendant: Douglas Taylor, LEAD ATTORNEY, Brian Connolly, PRO HAC VICE, GROMFINE, TAYLOR AND TYLER, Alexandria , VA.

For Anthony Garland, Defendant: Douglas Taylor, LEAD ATTORNEY, GROMFINE, TAYLOR & TYLER, Alexandria , VA.

Page 363

MEMORANDUM OPINION

JAMES E. BOASBERG, United States District Judge

Plaintiff Ishmael Clark-Williams worked for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority as a bus driver from 2007 to 2011, when he was terminated - but not for anything he had done while employed there. Instead, WMATA determined that pre-2007 New Jersey felony convictions disqualified Clark-Williams from keeping his job. His union - Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 689 - filed a grievance on his behalf and ultimately took the matter to arbitration, which upheld Plaintiff's dismissal. Unhappy with that result, Clark-Williams brought this action against WMATA, Local 689, and one of its officers, Anthony Garland, asserting a breach of the duty of fair representation.

Although WMATA answered the Complaint, Local 689 and Garland have now filed a Motion to Dismiss, asserting that the Union did all it could for Plaintiff. The Court agrees that Garland should be dismissed, and it will, in addition, grant the Union's Motion in part and deny it in part.

I. Background

For purposes of this Motion, the Court takes the facts as pled in the Complaint as true. On September 7, 2007, Plaintiff was hired by WMATA as a bus operator. See Compl., ¶ 4. Prior to his hiring, he informed WMATA that he had previously pled guilty to criminal charges in New Jersey and was at the time on probation there. Id., ¶ 5. After working for WMATA for three and a half years, Clark-Williams was fired on February 4, 2011, for " violations of Sections 1.1, 1.2, & 1.3 of the WMATA Employee Handbook." Id., ¶ 7. (The Complaint does not explain what those sections proscribe.) That same day, Plaintiff filed a grievance, which was initially unsuccessful. Id., ¶ 8. Over a year

Page 364

later, however, WMATA and Local 689 agreed to settle the grievance by reinstating Plaintiff, subject to the condition that he undergo and pass background screening. Id., ¶ 9. Defendant Anthony Garland, " then Recording Secretary, Shop Steward, and Assistant Business Agent, for Local 689," discussed the issues with Plaintiff and advised him that his criminal convictions would not prevent his reinstatement. Id., ¶ 10.

Such assurances notwithstanding, WMATA notified Clark-Williams in July 2012 that he was not eligible for reinstatement because his convictions constituted a permanent disqualifier. Id., ¶ 11. Plaintiff filed a further grievance, which then proceeded to arbitration and resulted in a denial of reinstatement in June 2013. Id., ¶ ¶ 13-14. Clark-Williams then brought this action against Local 689, Garland, and WMATA. He claims that the Union did not " oppose WMATA's Policy P/I 7.40/0 in its collective bargaining." Id., ¶ 16. (The Policy is never explained, but presumably refers to disqualifying criminal histories.) He also alleges that Local 689 violated both its statutory duties under the National Labor Relations Act to represent him fairly and its contractual duties under the collective-bargaining agreement to treat him in the same manner. Id., ¶ ¶ 17-18. WMATA is alleged to have breached its duties to deal with Plaintiff in good faith by applying its ...


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