United States District Court, District of Columbia
N. MCFADDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
suit arises from Allied Aviation Services'
(“Allied”) termination and reinstatement of
Plaintiff Edward Johnson. Mr. Johnson alleges that his union,
Defendant Local Lodge 1759 (“Local Lodge”),
breached its duty of fair representation. Local Lodge moved
for summary judgment. The Court twice advised Mr. Johnson to
respond to Local Lodge's motion or the Court would
proceed without his opposition. Mr. Johnson never responded.
The Court now considers Local Lodge's motion without
opposition from Mr. Johnson. For the reasons below, the Court
will grant summary judgment to Local Lodge.
Johnson worked for Allied as a Tank Farm Operator at Reagan
National Airport. Statement of Undisputed Material Fact
(“SUMF”) ¶¶ 1-3, ECF No.
48-6. He was responsible for monitoring fuel
levels and fueling aircraft. Id. ¶ 3.
Lodge represents the fueling operations employees at Allied
for collective-bargaining purposes. Id. ¶
The collective bargaining agreement between Allied and the
union covered the terms of Mr. Johnson's employment.
Id. ¶ 6. Allied also maintained an
“Hourly Employee Handbook” that governed
bargaining-unit employees, which included a “Code of
Conduct” for Allied employees. Id.
¶¶ 9-11. Mr. Johnson received and acknowledged the
handbook. Id. ¶¶ 9, 12.
so, Mr. Johnson had several conduct violations, including
fueling delays, misconduct, insubordination, and violations
of safety or operating rules. Id. ¶ 13. Then in
March 2016, Mr. Johnson fell asleep on the job. Id.
¶¶ 14-16. While he was sleeping, the fuel tank he
was responsible for monitoring depleted, triggering an alarm.
Id. ¶ 15. But Mr. Johnson slept through the
alarm, causing a temporary shutdown of Reagan National's
fueling system. See id.; McCulloch Decl. Ex. E, ECF
No. 48-5 at 5. Allied's Operations Manager, Michael
Baylor, found Mr. Johnson asleep in his chair and immediately
suspended him. SUMF ¶¶ 14, 16-17. Allied then set
an investigation hearing for the next week. Id.
Johnson attended the hearing and presented a letter from his
doctor. Id. ¶¶ 18-19. The letter
acknowledged that Mr. Johnson had fallen asleep at work.
Id. ¶ 19; Grunert Decl. Ex. H, ECF No. 48-3 at
30. The hearing officers found Mr. Johnson guilty of
“Sleeping on the Job/Failure to respond to
Alarm.” SUMF ¶ 20. “Sleeping on the
job” is a terminable offense under Allied's
employee Code of Conduct, see Id. ¶ 10, and
Allied thus terminated Mr. Johnson, id. ¶ 20.
the collective bargaining agreement, any aggrieved employee
must present a grievance in writing within ten business days
of knowledge of the grievance or complaint. Id.
¶ 8. Mr. Johnson did not do so. Id. ¶ 21.
Tim McCulloch, the union's General Chairperson, was
responsible for representation at Allied, including
representing employees in the contractual grievance process.
Id. ¶ 5. Mr. McCulloch learned about Mr.
Johnson's termination after the ten-day timeframe.
Id. ¶¶ 21, 23. Even so, Mr. McCulloch
began working to have Mr. Johnson reinstated. See
Id. ¶¶ 21-29.
McCulloch obtained and reviewed a copy of Mr. Johnson's
personnel and discipline files. Id. ¶ 24. Based
on that review, he determined that a negotiated solution with
Allied was the best option since Mr. Johnson had not filed a
grievance. McCulloch Decl. ¶ 11, ECF No. 48-4. So from
April to June 2016, he negotiated with Allied to have Mr.
Johnson reinstated. SUMF ¶¶ 25-29. Mr. McCulloch
explained that Mr. Johnson was having personal difficulties
and requested that Allied give him a second chance.
Id. ¶ 26.
however, upheld Mr. Johnson's termination. See
Id. ¶ 27. Yet Mr. McCulloch persisted. In June
2016, he urged Allied that “[e]veryone in life deserves
a second chance, ” and even offered to meet with
Allied's General Manager to discuss Mr. Johnson's
situation. Id. ¶ 29.
eventually relented, agreeing to reinstate Mr. Johnson.
See Id. ¶¶ 30-31. But Allied maintained
that the termination was justified and offered to reinstate
Mr. Johnson only under certain conditions. Id. For
example, Mr. Johnson agreed that Allied would reduce his
termination to a “Commitment Letter and upon [Mr.
Johnson's] return, a hearing, pursuant to the CBA,
w[ould] be held to formalize the action.” Id.
Mr. Johnson also agreed to have his time off considered
“a disciplinary suspension without backpay.”
Id. Finally, the agreement established that Mr.
Johnson's reinstatement was “conditional and
predicated on his good faith efforts to establish himself as
a productive and accountable employee.” See
Grunert Decl. Ex. I, ECF No. 48-3 at 31.
Johnson returned to work in July 2016. SUMF ¶ 36. As
required by the reinstatement agreement, Mr. Johnson signed a
“Letter of Commitment” when he returned.
Id. ¶ 37. The Letter of Commitment stated in
part, “I understand that if I do not correct my
performance problem, I will be discharged without further
warning.” Id. ¶ 38.
Johnson claims that Local Lodge breached its duty of fair
representation for his termination and
reinstatement. He complains that he “had no
representation in [his] initial hearing, ”
“correct papers were not filed for an appeal hearing,
” and he did ...