THE BACKGROUND OF THIS ORDER IS AS FOLLOWS:
On October 23, 1992, the Plaintiffs filed this action pursuant to the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, 29 U.S.C. § 2101, et seq. The events which form the basis of this action occurred on February 25, 1991. On that date North Star Steel Company, Inc. (hereafter "North Star Steel"), laid off approximately 270 employees at its Milton, Pennsylvania, plant. The Plaintiffs allege that they are entitled to damages because they were laid off without any notice.
On April 1, 1993, the parties filed cross motions for summary judgment. Both of those motions have been fully briefed and are ripe for disposition.
The standard for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Procedure 56 is well settled. Summary judgment is not proper where a reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party on a material issue of fact. Since a reasonable jury presumably needs more than a scintilla of evidence to find in favor of a party with the burden of persuasion, more than that amount of evidence must be produced by the non-movant in order to survive a summary judgment motion. The non-movant must present evidence beyond his or her pleadings to meet this requirement. Williams v. Borough of West Chester, 891 F.2d 458, 459-69 (3d Cir. 1989). We first address North Star Steel's motion for summary judgment.
In its motion North Star Steel argues that the Plaintiffs' claims are time barred because they commenced this action approximately 20 months after the events which gave rise to their cause of action. North Star Steel reasons that the appropriate statute of limitations for actions brought pursuant to the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act is six months. In response the Plaintiffs argue that their complaint was timely-filed because the applicable statute of limitations is three years.
The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act does not contain an express statute of limitations. In such instances the United States Supreme Court has "generally concluded that Congress intended that the Courts apply the most closely analogous statute of limitations under state law." Reed v. United Transp. Union, 488 U.S. 319, 323, 109 S. Ct. 621, 625, 102 L. Ed. 2d 665 (1989) (quoting DelCostello v. Teamsters, 462 U.S. 151, 158, 103 S. Ct. 2281, 2287, 76 L. Ed. 2d 476 (1983)). However, that general principle does not apply
when a rule from elsewhere in federal law clearly provides a closer analogy than available state statutes, and when the federal policies at stake and the practicalities of litigation make that rule a significantly more appropriate vehicle for interstitial lawmaking.
Id. (quoting DelCostello, 462 U.S. at 172, 103 S. Ct. at 2294).
The Plaintiffs assert that the general principle should be followed and that the statute of limitations in Pennsylvania's Wage Payment and Collection Law, which is three years, should be applied in this case.
The Wage Payment and Collection Law, 43 P.S. §§ 260.1 et seq., does not create an employee's right to compensation but only establishes a right to enforce the payment of wages and compensation to which an employee is otherwise entitled. 43 P.S. § 260.5(a); Weldon v. Craft, Inc., 876 F.2d 793 (3d Cir. 1992). The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act differs from the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law in that the former creates a statutory right to monetary damages when an employer violates its provisions.
In Haggerty v. U.S. Air, Inc., 952 F.2d 781 (3d Cir. 1992), the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit declined to borrow the statute of limitations in the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law in a case brought pursuant to a federal statute that did not contain a statute of limitations. The statute at issue in Haggerty was the Employee Protection Program which was an amendment to the Airline Deregulation Act. The Employee Protection Program "gave a protected employee not only a 'first right of hire' by any other air carrier but also a right to recall and [to] retention of seniority in his or her original air carrier employment." Haggerty, 952 F.2d at 785. That Program implicitly provided that an employee covered by it could bring an action based on the statutory rights that it created.
In deciding that the statute of limitations in the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law did not apply to Haggerty's claim brought pursuant to the Employee Protection Program, the Court of Appeals stated that
the wage payment law is for payment of wages to employees, not for hiring claims, and it is premised on a contractual obligation that an employer has to pay wages and benefits, not a statutory right like the one here.
Id. at 786 (footnote omitted). That reasoning applies to this case because the Plaintiffs seek to enforce a statutory right established by the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act and their action is not premised on any pre-existing contractual obligation between them and North Star Steel. However, that conclusion does not end our inquiry.
We may decline to borrow a state statute of limitations only where: (1) a rule from elsewhere in federal law clearly provides a closer analogy than available state statutes; and (2) when the federal Policies at stake and the practicalities of litigation make that rule a significantly more appropriate vehicle for interstitial lawmaking. Reed v. United Transp. Union, supra. North Star Steel argues that the National Labor Relations Act is the appropriate statute from which we should borrow the applicable statute of limitations. The statute of limitations in that Act is six months. 29 U.S.C. § 160(b).
We must determine whether the National Labor Relations Act is more analogous to the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act than any available state statute. We initially note that in another action against North Star Steel which had arisen from the same facts in this case, we analogized for the purposes of awarding prejudgment interest and of awarding attorney's fees an action brought under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act to one pursuant to the National Labor Relations Act for the purposes of awarding prejudgment interest and of awarding attorney's fees. United Steelworkers of America v. North Star Steel Corp., 809 F. Supp. 5 (M.D. 1993). We supplement our conclusion in that case with the following factors.
A number of the provisions in the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act apply specifically where the terminated employees are represented by a union and other provisions explicitly refer to the National Labor Relations Act. Both the National Labor Relations Act and the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act bestow statutory rights upon employees. While the specific rights created by each statute are different, the policies behind each of the acts are consistent, mutually-reinforcing, and to some extent identical.
The purposes of the National Labor Relations Act are
to prescribe the legitimate rights of both employees and employers in their relations affecting commerce, to provide orderly and peaceful procedures for preventing the interference by either with the legitimate rights of the other, to protect the rights of individual employees in their relations with labor organizations whose activities affect commerce, to define and proscribe practices on the part of labor and management which affect commerce and are inimical to the general welfare, and to protect the rights of the public in connection with labor disputes affecting commerce.