914 F.2d 795 (6th Cir. 1990), 89-3564, Fox v. Parker Hannifin Corp.

Docket Nº:(89-3564/3565), and Cross-Appellees,
Citation:914 F.2d 795
Party Name:5 Indiv.Empl.Rts.Cas. 1329 Minnie P. FOX and Charles F. Fox, Plaintiffs-Appellants
Case Date:September 20, 1990
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

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914 F.2d 795 (6th Cir. 1990)

5 Indiv.Empl.Rts.Cas. 1329

Minnie P. FOX and Charles F. Fox, Plaintiffs-Appellants

(89-3564/3565), and Cross-Appellees,




International Association of Machinists and Aerospace

Workers, District 54, Defendant-Appellee and

Cross-Appellant (89-3566),


Evelyn Wallace, Dolores Fox, Elaine Joyner, Blanche

Kormanyos, Mary Garrison, Mary Helsley, Elfriede

Stames and Angelo Stames, Defendants-Appellees.

Nos. 89-3564, 89-3565 and 89-3566.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

September 20, 1990

Argued July 24, 1990.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Daniel T. Todt, argued, Rebecca L. Todt, Cleveland, Ohio, for plaintiffs-appellants and cross-appellees.

Bruce G. Hearey, Spieth, Bell, McCurdy & Newell, Cleveland, Ohio, for defendants-appellees.

David Roloff, argued, Gaines & Stern, Cleveland, Ohio, for defendant-appellee and cross-appellant.

Marillyn Fagan Damelio, argued, Cleveland, Ohio, for defendant-appellee Angelo Stames.

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Before KEITH and GUY, Circuit Judges, and BROWN, Senior Circuit Judge.

RALPH B. GUY, Jr., Circuit Judge.

In this wrongful discharge action, plaintiff Minnie Fox appeals from the entry of summary judgment on statute of limitations grounds as to both her hybrid section 301 1 claim and her state law claim for tortious interference with contractual relations, which the district court treated as preempted by section 301. In addition, defendant International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, District 54 (the Union), challenges the district court's determination that section 301 does not preempt various other state law claims asserted by plaintiffs Minnie and Charles Fox. We affirm the district court's application of the six-month statute of limitations insofar as Minnie Fox's hybrid section 301 claim and all preempted state law claims are concerned, but reverse the district court's rulings regarding the preemptive impact of section 301 on several of the plaintiffs' state law claims. Finally, we affirm the district court's dismissal without prejudice of all state law claims beyond the preemptive scope of section 301.


Minnie Fox began her employment with defendant Parker Hannifin Corporation (the Company) on May 15, 1963. Throughout her tenure as a machine operator with the Company, she was a member of the Union employed under a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) negotiated between the Company and the Union. She apparently worked without difficulty for the Company until 1976, when she and various co-workers began to trade accusations of harassment. In her view, the problems began when she opposed one of her co-worker's attempts to instigate a wildcat strike. She filed grievances in 1977 and 1981 alleging that supervisory personnel were persecuting her. In both instances, the grievances were resolved. Additionally, she repeatedly lodged informal complaints with the Union and the Company concerning what she perceived as harassment by her co-workers.

In 1981, 1984, and 1986, the Company suspended plaintiff Minnie Fox for "restricting production" and "interfering with employees." Each suspension precipitated the filing of a grievance on her behalf, and each grievance was either resolved or withdrawn. In June of 1987, she was convicted on a criminal charge of harassing co-worker Elfriede Stames by telephone. On June 10, 1987, the Company sent the plaintiff a letter advising her that "effective today your employment with Parker Hannifin Corporation is terminated due to continued verbal harassment and threats to employees." A grievance subsequently filed on June 22, 1987, asserted that the discharge contravened the terms of the operative CBA between the Company and the Union, but the Company refused to reinstate Fox. Pursuant to the provisions of the CBA, Fox's unresolved grievance ultimately was referred to the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) for a conciliation hearing as the fifth and final step in the grievance resolution process. See CBA Art. V, Sec. 1, Step 5. Following the FMCS hearing in August of 1987, which apparently produced no binding result, the Company remained resolute in its opposition to rehiring her, and she agreed with her Union representatives that her only remaining avenue of recourse--seeking a strike vote by the Union membership--would be futile. Therefore, in September of 1987, Union shop steward Tony Kastelic notified Fox that the Company would not reinstate her and the Union did not intend to take any further action on her behalf. One year later, on September 12, 1988, Fox and her husband Charles filed this action against the Company, the Union, various Company employees, and one employee's husband. 2

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In their 14-count complaint, Minnie and Charles Fox set forth a hybrid section 301 claim against the Company and the Union. See, e.g., White v. Anchor Motor Freight, Inc., 899 F.2d 555, 559-60 (6th Cir.1990) (explaining theory of hybrid 301 claims). Additionally, the plaintiffs alleged a host of pendent state claims against various defendants under Ohio law including tortious interference with contractual relations, slander, breach of contract and promissory estoppel, negligence, wrongful discharge in violation of public policy, fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and loss of consortium on behalf of Charles Fox. In response to the defendants' motions for dismissal and summary judgment, the district court filed a memorandum opinion on May 4, 1989, explaining that the applicable six-month statute of limitations barred the hybrid section 301 claim. After finding the tortious interference claim subject to section 301 preemption, the district court likewise dismissed that claim. Having eliminated all of the plaintiffs' federal causes of action from the lawsuit, the district court dismissed the remaining pendent state claims without prejudice. This appeal by the plaintiff, as well as the Union's cross-appeal, followed.

The plaintiffs identify three assignments of error on appeal. First, they contend that the district court erred in ruling that Minnie Fox's state law claim for tortious interference with her employment contract falls within the ambit of section 301 preemption. Second, they challenge the district court's application of the six-month statute of limitations to bar Minnie Fox's hybrid section 301 claim and her preempted tortious interference claim. Finally, they argue that the district court erroneously refused to exercise pendent jurisdiction over their remaining state law claims. The Union's cross-appeal contests the district court's rulings that section 301 does not preempt the plaintiffs' state law claims for breach of contract and promissory estoppel, negligence, fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and loss of consortium. 3


Section 301, by its terms, governs "[s]uits for violation of contracts between an employer and a labor organization...." 29 U.S.C. Sec. 185(a). However, the Supreme Court has read section 301 expansively to include individual collective bargaining workers' claims. See, e.g., Smith v. Evening News Ass'n, 371 U.S. 195, 200-01, 83 S.Ct. 267, 270-71, 9 L.Ed.2d 246 (1962). The Court also has deduced that section 301 "authorizes federal courts to fashion a body of federal law for the enforcement" of CBAs. See Textile Workers v. Lincoln Mills, 353 U.S. 448, 451, 77 S.Ct. 912, 915, 1 L.Ed.2d 972 (1957). To ensure uniformity in this area of federal law, the Court has further concluded that " '[s]tate law does not exist as an independent source of private rights to enforce collective bargaining contracts.' " Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 394, 107 S.Ct. 2425, 2430, 96 L.Ed.2d 318 (1987). In this respect, section 301 constitutes an exception to the well-pleaded complaint rule because "the pre-emptive force of Sec. 301 is so powerful as to displace entirely any state cause of action 'for violation of contracts between an employer and a labor organization.' " Franchise Tax Bd. v. Construction Laborers Vacation Trust, 463 U.S. 1, 23, 103 S.Ct. 2841, 2853, 77 L.Ed.2d 420 (1983). "State law is thus 'pre-empted' by Sec. 301 in that only the federal law fashioned by the courts under Sec. 301 governs the interpretation and application of collective-bargaining agreements." United Steelworkers of America v. Rawson, --- U.S. ----, 110 S.Ct. 1904, 1909, 109 L.Ed.2d 362 (1990).

The preemptive reach of section 301, however, is by no means boundless. Section 301 preempts only state law claims

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that are "substantially dependent on analysis of a collective-bargaining agreement," see, e.g., International Bhd. of Elec. Workers v. Hechler, 481 U.S. 851, 859 n. 3, 107 S.Ct. 2161, 2166-67 n. 3, 95 L.Ed.2d 791 (1987), not claims that only "tangentially" involve CBA provisions. See, e.g., Allis-Chalmers Corp. v. Lueck, 471 U.S. 202, 211, 105 S.Ct. 1904, 1911, 85 L.Ed.2d 206 (1985). Furthermore, a defendant's reliance on a CBA term purely as a defense to a state law claim does not result in section 301 preemption. See Caterpillar, 482 U.S. at 399, 107 S.Ct. at 2433; accord Smolarek v. Chrysler Corp., 879 F.2d 1326, 1334 (6th Cir.) (en banc), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 110 S.Ct. 539, 107 L.Ed.2d 537 (1989). Underlying these basic rules is the fundamental precept that "Sec. 301 preemption merely ensures that federal law will be the basis of interpreting collective-bargaining agreements, and says nothing about the substantive rights a State may provide to workers when adjudication of those rights does not depend upon interpretation of such agreements." Lingle v. Norge Div. of Magic Chef, Inc., 486 U.S. 399, 409, 108 S.Ct. 1877, 1878, 100 L.Ed.2d 410 (1988) (footnote omitted). Accordingly, whenever a plaintiff's state law claim "can be resolved...

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