Third Circuit Finds CBA Arbitration Provision Waives Title VII Judicial Forum

Third Circuit Finds CBA Arbitration Provision Waives Title VII Judicial Forum

In Darrington v. Milton Hershey School (3rd Cir., No. 19-2754, 5/6/2020), the plaintiff spouses, Bradley and Val Darrington, served as house parents for the defendant school. Following their discharge, they sued the school for religious discrimination and retaliation under Title VII and Pennsylvania state law. The trial court denied the school’s motion to compel arbitration as provided in the collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) between the Darringtons’ union and the school. The Third Circuit reversed.

By its plain terms, the court found the CBA’s arbitration provision waived the Darringtons’ right to sue in state or federal court. Specifically, the CBA’s grievance arbitration procedure covered “any dispute alleging discrimination against any [Union members] based upon membership in any protected categories under federal or state law” and further “that the Union, on behalf of itself and the allegedly aggrieved [Union members], waives, releases[,] and discharges any right to institute or maintain any private lawsuit alleging employment discrimination in any state or federal court regarding the matters encompassed within this grievance procedure.” The court thus concluded the Darrington’s would be compelled to pursue arbitration under the CBA.

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