Can we sue an employer for pain and suffering from a wrongful termination if our union is arbitration to get our jobs & backpay?

Asked 11 months ago - Kennewick, WA

4 union employees were recently terminated as a disciplinary action pertaining to a guilty plea agreement with authorities between 6 months to 13 months earlier. The offenses were committed at work with a former employer over 5 years ago. The current company had come in 5 years ago and gave the 4 individuals written warnings as discipline for their action with this prior company and wrote a letter stating this would be the last discipline on this issue. Now over 5 years later they fired all four individuals because our their guilty plea bargains they made over 6 months ago. They have never done anything wrong with their current employer. The union is going through the grievance process to try & get their jobs reinstated with backpay but want to know if they can sue for pain&suffering?

Attorney answers (3)

  1. William D. Edelblute

    Contributor Level 11

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Arbitration is not suing, arbitration is a binding remedy that does not result in further suit.
    Certain types of wrongful termination fall outside a Collective Bargaining agreement, because of violation of statutory rights that can't be limited by a CBA, and suit can be brought, and emotional distress is a damage that can be sought in a wrongful termination suit.
    I don't see anything described here that falls under a statutory right falling outside a CBA. So it appears likely they are limited to their grievance/arbitration procedure and it is doubtful anything for "pain and suffering" or emotional distress would be recovered that way.

  2. Brett A. Borah

    Contributor Level 20

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . I agree with my esteemed colleague.

  3. Marilynn Mika Spencer

    Contributor Level 20

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . I am a California attorney and cannot give legal advice in your state. My comments are information only, based on federal law and general legal principles. YOUR STATE MAY HAVE ITS OWN LAWS THAT OFFER SIMILAR OR GREATER PROTECTION. If I mention your state’s laws, it only means I did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant. You MUST check with an attorney licensed in your state to learn your rights.

    If the workplace problem is based on a statute, such as any of the laws prohibiting on-the-job discrimination or protecting whistleblowers then a private attorney may be able to help. If the workplace problem is due to the employer’s dissatisfaction with work or conduct, the remedy is probably limited to going through the union.

    @MikaSpencer * * * twitter.com/MikaSpencer * * * PLEASE READ: All legal actions have time limits, called statutes... more

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