United States District Court, District of Columbia
RANDOLPH D. MOSS United States District Judge.
Ishmael Clark-Williams lost his job as a bus driver for the
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
(“WMATA”). He filed a grievance with his union,
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 (“Local
689”), which negotiated a Settlement Agreement with
WMATA on his behalf. The Settlement Agreement provided that
Clark-Williams would be reinstated-but only if he passed a
background check under WMATA's new Background Screening
Policy. Clark-Williams informed Local 689 that he had an
existing criminal record (which he had previously disclosed),
but a union official allegedly assured him that it would not
pose a problem. It did pose a problem. WMATA determined that
Clark-Williams's criminal history rendered him
ineligible, and, on that basis, it declined to reinstate him.
Local 689 then challenged that finding in arbitration. The
Board of Arbitration, however, sided with WMATA, concluding
that it had properly applied the Background Screening Policy
and had not breached the Settlement Agreement. Clark-Williams
was not reinstated.
then brought this lawsuit against both WMATA and Local 689
(collectively, “Defendants”). He alleges that
WMATA breached the terms of its collective bargaining
agreement with Local 689 and that Local 689 breached its duty
to provide Clark-Williams with fair representation. All three
parties have now moved for summary judgment. Because
Clark-Williams has failed to identify any factual basis to
suggest that WMATA breached the collective bargaining
agreement, and because such a breach is an essential element
of his claims against both WMATA and Local 689, the Court
will grant Defendants' motions, deny Clark-Williams's
motion, and enter judgment for Defendants.
The Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”)
Between Local 689 and WMATA
689 is a labor union “organized for the purpose of
collective bargaining with WMATA.” Dkt. 30 at 3. Its
relationship with WMATA is governed by a “collective
bargaining agreement, ” or “CBA.” The CBA
appears to set forth procedures by which WMATA employees can
file grievances with Local 689, and through which Local 689
can pursue those grievances on those employees' behalf.
See Dkt. 30-4 at 3 (CBA table of contents). The full
text of the CBA, however, is not before the Court. The
parties have provided only the table of contents and the
first two pages,  see Dkt. 30-4 at 3-12; Dkt. 31-1
at 79-81, and those pages contain only a single relevant
provision. That provision is CBA section 102(b), and it
states in relevant part:
[Local 689] acknowledges that all matters pertaining to the
management of operations, including . . . the hiring and
establishment of standards for selection and qualification of
employees, . . . and the development and enforcement of
reasonable rules and regulations regarding employment are the
prerogatives of [WMATA] and are reserved by [WMMATA] unless
expressly waived by specific provisions of this agreement, or
by the past practices of the parties.
Dkt. 30-4 at 11-12; accord Dkt. 31-1 at 81.
The Settlement Agreement and the Background Screening
worked as a bus driver for WMATA starting in September 2007.
Dkt. 30 at 3. At the time he was hired, he disclosed that he
was on probation, having pleaded guilty to criminal conduct
in New Jersey. Id. Clark-Williams allegedly served
the next three and a half years without incident,
“other than minor customer complaints” and
“one violation of the anti-violence workplace
policy.” Dkt. 1-3 at 2 (Compl. ¶ 6). On February
4, 2011, however, WMATA terminated Clark-Williams for
“violations of . . . the WMATA Employee Handbook,
” Dkt. 30 at 4, apparently on the ground that he had
allegedly accepted workers' compensation payments to
which he was not entitled, see Dkt. 34-3 at 4.
689 protested Clark-Williams's discharge on his behalf,
and, in May 2012, reached a Settlement Agreement with WMATA.
Id.; see Dkt. 34-4 at 2-4. That Agreement
provided that WMATA would reinstate Clark-Williams, subject
to certain conditions. Dkt. 30 at 4. One of those conditions
was Clark-Williams's successful completion of background
screening pursuant to WMATA's Background Screen
Policy/Instruction 7.40/0 (“the Background Screening
Policy”). Id. Specifically, the Settlement
Agreement provided that:
The Grievant [Clark-Williams] will undergo background
screening pursuant to P/I 7.40/0, and his/her reinstatement
will be contingent upon his/her meeting the standards set
forth in this policy and appendices.
Dkt. 34-4 at 2. The Settlement Agreement was signed by a
representative from WMATA and by Anthony Garland, the shop
steward for Local 689 at the time. Id. at 4.
Background Screening Policy (to which the Settlement
Agreement referred) had become effective five months earlier
on December 22, 2011. Dkt. 34-2 at 2. It provided in relevant
3.00 DEFINITIONS . . .
3.02 Background Screening is defined as the process
for authenticating and verifying the information supplied to
[WMATA] and is used to determine eligibility for employment
or transfer to another position based on the duties of the
position. The components of a screening include: . . .
(c) Criminal Convictions. A national search of
criminal history. . . .
3.03 Candidate is defined as either external or
internal as follows:
(a) External Candidate is an external applicant who
is under consideration for employment and who has authorized
[WMATA] to perform the required screenings. For the
purposes of this policy, returning employees who are under
consideration for reinstatement are considered external
candidates. . . .
3.05 Criminal Conviction is defined as a criminal
prosecution which concludes in a judgment of guilty,
including a plea of guilty, no contest, or probation
before judgment . . . .
5.01 External Candidates
(a) External candidates will undergo a screening to determine
eligibility for employment based on the requirements of the
position in accordance with Section 3.02 of this policy.
(b) External candidates, who are returning employees, are
required to complete and submit an application for employment
and authorize [WMATA] to conduct the required screenings. . .
(c) Any criminal convictions and other relevant negative
information will be evaluated to determine eligibility in
accordance with App ...