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PETROWSKI v. KILROY

May 17, 1985

HELENE M. PETROWSKI
v.
RICHARD I. KILROY, et al.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BRODERICK

 MEMORANDUM

 The plaintiff, Helen M. Petrowski, brought this action in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County against her former employers, the Brotherhood of Railway, Airline & Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express and Station Employees (BRAC) and its subsidiary, Conrail System Board of Adjustment No. 86 (System Board), and Richard I. Kilroy and John A. Lieb, the International President of BRAC and International Representative of BRAC, respectively. The plaintiff alleged that defendants had breached their express and implied contracts of continued employment by discharging her without cause. The plaintiff also alleged that defendants breached their express contract, embodied in the BRAC Constitution, concerning the plaintiff's seniority rights and her right to notice and a hearing prior to being disciplined as a member of BRAC. In addition, the plaintiff alleged that defendants' conduct constituted wrongful discharge, libel, and intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress under Pennsylvania law. Defendants removed this action to federal court on the ground that plaintiff's allegation of improper disciplinary action by a union was a claim founded upon the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA), 29 U.S.C. § 401 et seq. (1975).

 Although plaintiff did not originally plead an action arising under the federal labor laws, plaintiff acquiesced in the removal. Plaintiff was then granted leave to amend her complaint to allege that defendants violated plaintiff's rights under sections 101, 102, and 609 of the LMRDA, 29 U.S.C. §§ 411, 412, 529.

 Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss the complaint under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), for failure to state a claim for which relief can be granted. Plaintiff asserts, inter alia, that she has stated a claim under section 301 of the Labor-Management Relations Act (LMRA), 29 U.S.C. § 185, as well as a claim under the LMRDA.

 In considering defendants' motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), this Court must view the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and deny the motion even if it appears on the face of the pleadings that recovery is very remote. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 94 S. Ct. 1683, 40 L. Ed. 2d 90 (1974); Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 78 S. Ct. 99, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80 (1957). The Court will dismiss the complaint only if it "appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of [her] claim which would entitle [her] to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. at 45-46, 78 S. Ct. at 101-02.

 Plaintiff alleges the following facts in support of her claims: In January 1977, the plaintiff was hired by BRAC and System Board to work at the offices of System Board. As a condition of her employment, the plaintiff was required to become a member of BRAC, which she did. The BRAC Constitution provided, inter alia, that the International President "shall have power to suspend, expel, or otherwise discipline a member, but only after serving such member with specific written charges stating the ground therefor, and affording the member reasonable time to prepare his defense and a full and fair hearing." In addition, plaintiff received a BRAC personnel policy statement which provided that "employees whose positions are abolished may, seniority and qualifications permitted, exercise their seniority rights over junior employees. Other employees affected may exercise their seniority in the same manner."

 In 1981, plaintiff was promoted to the position of administrative assistant to the then General Chairman of System Board, Mr. Al Archual. In August of 1981, Mr. Archual became International Vice President of BRAC. From that point on, BRAC and System Board each contributed one-half of plaintiff's salary.

 In September 1983, an investigation revealed that Mr. Archual was misusing union funds. BRAC and its president, Richard I. Kilroy, imposed a trusteeship on System Board. John A. Lieb served as trustee of System Board from September 7, 1983 until May 1984. Plaintiff had no knowledge of any illegal or improper activity by Mr. Archual and had not participated in any illegal or improper activity prior to September 1983, when the trusteeship was imposed. On September 7, Mr. Kilroy, the President of BRAC, told plaintiff to stay home from work until further notice. Although plaintiff continued to receive her salary and benefits, she was not permitted to visit her place of employment. Her personal belongings were delivered to her by the defendants. Plaintiff was forced to seek and obtain permission to visit the office of her dentist, which was in the same building as the offices of System Board.

 On or about September 9, 1983, Mr. Kilroy and BRAC entered an agreement with Mr. Archual which provided that Mr. Archual would resign his positions with BRAC and System Board and forego any legal challenge to the imposition of the trusteeship over System Board. In return, Mr. Archual would receive retirement benefits as a former member and officer of BRAC and System Board, and BRAC and System Board would continue to employ the plaintiff. Mr. Archual resigned and subsequently pled guilty to embezzlement and income tax evasion in federal district court. Mr. Lieb, the trustee of System Board, terminated plaintiff's employment with BRAC and System Board, without explanation or hearing, effective December 9, 1983. All defendants authorized the action taken by Mr. Lieb with respect to plaintiff's termination. On December 9, 1983, the plaintiff claimed her seniority rights over other office employees, but, without explanation, defendants denied plaintiff the right to assert seniority. Mr. Kilroy and Mr. Lieb falsely accused plaintiff of involvement in the misconduct of Mr. Archual. In terminating plaintiff's employment, defendants intended to punish plaintiff for criminal activity in which they knew she had not participated, and for her association with Mr. Archual.

 I. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS ACT CLAIM

 In Count IV of her complaint, plaintiff alleges that the defendants breached their express contract not to impose discipline upon plaintiff as a member of BRAC without notice of specific charges and a hearing. Plaintiff contends that the union constitution is a contract, and that she has a federal cause of action against defendants for breach of that contract under section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185(a), which provides:

 
Suits for violation of contracts between an employer and a labor organization representing employees in an industry affecting commerce as defined in this chapter, or between any such labor organizations, may be brought in any district court of the United States having jurisdiction of the parties, without respect ...

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