Plaintiff worked for a community hospital. She was working as a clerk when she was offered a promotion. Her union negotiated a side-deal that if she lost the promoted position, she would return to her original position. Several years later the employer eliminated the promoted position in a RIF and wanted to bump back. Her union claimed the side deal wasn?t enforceable. She sued both the employer and the union under section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act. The district court granted summary judgment to the union.

The Ninth Circuit reversed. As it had to, the court first analyzed whether the employer should have returned her to her original position. The court held that the bump-back side-deal was enforceable against the hospital. To prevail against the union, the plaintiff also had to show its decision not to pursue her grievance was arbitrary.

There was a genuine issue of fact whether the union had treated her grievance in a perfunctory manner such as to violate its duty of fair representation. The grievance panel never considered her rights seriously or separately from employees who didn?t have a side-deal. The union also provided weak reasons for rejecting her grievance.

Rollins v. Community Hosp. & SEIU United Healthcare Workers West, 839 F.3d 1181 (9th Cir. 10/26/16) (Fletcher, Gould, Lemelle (E.D. La.))