685 F.2d 164 (6th Cir. 1982), 79-3751, Smith v. United Broth. of Carpenters and Joiners of America

Docket Nº:79-3751.
Citation:685 F.2d 164
Party Name:Ervin L. SMITH and Jerome Pope, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. UNITED BROTHERHOOD OF CARPENTERS AND JOINERS OF AMERICA, A.F.L.; Maumee Valley Carpenters District Council; United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, A.F.L. Local Nos. 248, 1138, 1457, 1393; and Toledo Carpenter Join
Case Date:August 03, 1982
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
 
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Page 164

685 F.2d 164 (6th Cir. 1982)

Ervin L. SMITH and Jerome Pope, individually and on behalf

of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

UNITED BROTHERHOOD OF CARPENTERS AND JOINERS OF AMERICA,

A.F.L.; Maumee Valley Carpenters District Council; United

Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, A.F.L.

Local Nos. 248, 1138, 1457, 1393; and Toledo Carpenter Joint

Apprenticeship Committee, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 79-3751.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

August 3, 1982

Argued Sept. 17, 1981.

Rehearing Denied Sept. 30, 1982.

As Amended Nov. 9, 1982.

Page 165

Glenn C. Galbreath, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Dale A. Wilker, Toledo, Ohio, for plaintiffs-appellants.

Thomas A. Dugan, Ulmer, Berne, Laronge, Glickman & Curtis, Cleveland, Ohio, for United Brotherhood, A.F.L.

Joseph J. Allotta, Allotta & Singer, Toledo, Ohio, for Maumee, Local Nos., and Toledo Carp.

Before KEITH and MARTIN, Circuit Judges, and DUNCAN, [*] District Judge.

BOYCE F. MARTIN, Jr., Circuit Judge.

Plaintiffs-appellants, a class of skilled and unskilled blacks in the Toledo, Ohio metropolitan area seeking employment as carpenters, appeal the District Court's dismissal of their Title VII employment discrimination claim, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. Defendants-appellees are four local carpentry unions, 1 the union international, 2 the collective bargaining agent for the locals, 3 and a joint contractor-union apprenticeship council. 4 Originally appellants' complaint issued against a group of local contractors; prior to trial the court below certified a defendant class which included all local contractors. However, that certification was dissolved and the defendant-contractors were dismissed after appellants signed a court-approved consent decree with one representative group of contractors.

The case proceeded to trial against the joint apprenticeship council (TCJAC) and

Page 166

the carpentry union, both the Toledo locals, and the international office. At the conclusion of the trial, the District Court issued Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 52(a). Although the court held that the complaint should be dismissed for failure to join indispensable parties under Fed.R.Civ.P. 19, it went on, despite this procedural defect, to decide the substantive issues before it.

We find error in the court's resolution of the Rule 19 question and remand the entire case. Furthermore, in order to facilitate the resolution of this lengthy litigation, we will undertake to correct certain legal errors apparent in the court's substantive analysis of appellants' claim. First, however, we will address the procedural question.

I.

The District Court's dismissal under Rule 19 was error. That rule is not to be applied in a rigid manner but should instead be governed by the practicalities of the individual case. Provident Tradesmen's Bank & Trust Co. v. Patterson, 390 U.S. 102, 116 n.12, 88 S.Ct. 733, 741 n.12, 19 L.Ed.2d 936 (1968). In this particular case, the question of proper parties was muddled by the distinction between the contractors, on the one hand, who controlled the hiring process, and TCJAC, the locals and the international, on the other, who set the entrance requirements to the union and its training programs.

Ideally, all four parties would be before the court. Yet Rule 19 calls for a pragmatic approach; simply because some forms of relief might not be available due to the absence of certain parties, the entire suit should not be dismissed if meaningful relief can still be accorded. Sandobal v. Armour & Co., 429 F.2d 249 (8th Cir. 1970). Here, that relief could have focused on the union membership criteria which were in the control of the defendants who remained after the contractors were dismissed. Indeed, failing to proceed perpetuates the dilemma posed by the division of power among all interested parties with respect to controlling the level of black employment in the carpentry trade.

Throughout this litigation, the union and the contractors have pointed to one another as the source of the low black employment in the trade. The unions have stated that they would welcome more black members but have been powerless to obtain them because the contractors have failed to hire blacks. Conversely, contractors have pointed to the union's entrance requirements and decried them as constraints on their efforts to find qualified blacks. This litigation offered the opportunity to examine one half of that dilemma-the entrance requirements. If those requirements were discriminatory, then they might have been reformed within the context of this lawsuit as it stood before the District Court. The interests of the absent contractors would not have been impaired so long as any modified entrance requirements did not deny them an adequate supply of willing carpenter apprentices. Other courts under similar circumstances have proceeded with Title VII litigation against the employee union in the absence of the employer. See, e.g., Kaplan v. Inter Alliance of Theatrical, etc., 525 F.2d 1354 (5th Cir. 1975). We direct the court below to do so in this case.

II.

In the interest of judicial economy, we turn now to correct certain legal errors which appear in the remainder of the District Court's order.

A. Class Certification

The order contains contradictory resolutions of the class certification question. At one point the plaintiff class is approved as certified, yet at another, the appellants are found to have failed the numerosity requirement of Fed.R.Civ.P. 23. We believe the court viewed the adequacy of the representation question too narrowly. Although the...

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