American Broadcasting v. Dist. of Columbia, No. 99-AA-1419.

Docket NºNo. 99-AA-1419.
Citation822 A.2d 1085
Case DateMay 08, 2003
CourtCourt of Appeals of Columbia District

822 A.2d 1085

AMERICAN BROADCASTING COMPANIES, INC., et al., Petitioners,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SERVICES, Respondent

No. 99-AA-1419.

District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

Argued March 14, 2003.

Decided May 8, 2003.


822 A.2d 1086
Joseph Baumgarten, a member of the bar of New York, pro hac vice, with whom Mark J. Biros, Washington, DC, was on the brief, for petitioners

Michael A. Milwee for respondent.

Before TERRY and STEADMAN, Associate Judges, and PRYOR, Senior Judge.

PRYOR, Senior Judge:

Petitioners seek review of a decision of the District of Columbia Department of Employment Services ("DOES") awarding unemployment compensation to members of a local union who, in the course of a labor dispute, initiated a strike, and were later locked out by the employer until an agreement was reached. Although an examiner denied any compensation to the claimants, the Office of Appeals and Review ("OAR") reversed the decision, and awarded benefits to the claimants for the days during the labor dispute when they were precluded from returning to work.

Petitioners assert a series of challenges; we address only the question of eligibility of the claimants for benefits because that issue is dispositive of the case. We conclude that the final order of the DOES, applying D.C.Code § 51-110(f) and awarding compensation benefits, was error. We reverse.

I.

Respondents, members of the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (the "union"), Local 31, were employed by one or more of petitioners (collectively "ABC") in the District of Columbia. The collective bargaining agreement under which the union and ABC had operated expired on March 31, 1997, and until the time at which the events giving rise to the instant action took place, the parties had been unsuccessful in their periodic endeavors to reach a new agreement. At approximately 5:00 a.m. E.S.T. on November 2, 1998, members of Local 16, the New York City Local, began picketing the facilities there, thus precipitating a nationwide strike. The strike was intended to be for twenty-four hours;1 however, at approximately

822 A.2d 1087
10:30 a.m., a series of proposed conditions to terminate the dispute were exchanged, none of which proved satisfactory to the parties.2 As a result, ABC notified the union by posting a notice at its Washington News Bureau at the end of the day that ABC would thereafter exclude members of the union from the work premises. This circumstance continued until January 15, 1999, when the union agreed to provide the strike notice that ABC first requested

On November 11, 1998, 153 union members ("union members") filed claims for unemployment benefits with the DOES.3 They sought benefits effective November 1, 1998. The DOES held a hearing on the claims on December 28, 1998, and on February 18, 1999, the presiding Appeals Examiner mailed to the parties his decision denying benefits.

The union members filed a timely appeal from the Appeals Examiner's decision to the OAR. The OAR reviewed the claims and issued a proposed decision, which considered the relevant provision of the statute, D.C.Code § 51-110(f) (2001),4 a number of judicial decisions, including National Broadcasting Co. v. District Unemployment Compensation Bd., 380 A.2d 998 (D.C.1977); Barbour v. District of Columbia Dep't of Unemployment Servs., 499 A.2d 122 (D.C.1985), rendered by this court, as well as Pennsylvania precedent. The OAR reversed the decision of the Appeals Examiner and concluded that the claimants should be deemed eligible to receive some benefits. After considering the parties' respective views, the OAR adopted in toto the analysis in its proposed decision and effected its final decision on August 6, 1999.

The present appeal followed.

II.

A.

The outcome of this case is determined by our interpretation of the pertinent section of the statute, D.C.Code § 51-110(f). For that reason, we begin with a statement of that provision:

An individual shall not be eligible for benefits with respect to any week if it has been found by the Director that such individual is unemployed in such week as a direct result of a labor dispute, other than a lockout, still in active progress in the establishment where he is or was last employed.

D.C.Code § 51-110(f) (emphasis added).

ABC contends that a reading of the statute, in light of our strong precedent to

822 A.2d 1088
the contrary, National Broadcasting Co. v. District Unemployment Compensation Bd., 380 A.2d 998 (D.C.1977) ("NBC"), demonstrates that OAR's decision to grant unemployment benefits was clearly erroneous. In response, the DOES urges that the dynamic relationship between employers and employees, the equitable resolution of the circumstances that arose in this instance, and the amendment of the District's statute, are substantial reasons to uphold the decision

In NBC, supra, this court faced a situation remarkably similar to the instant case. NBC and the same union's collective bargaining agreement expired on March 31, 1976, whereupon the union effected a strike. Five days later, the union notified NBC that its members were willing and able...

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7 practice notes
  • United Parcel Service v. DC DOES, No. 02-AA-1288.
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • October 30, 2003
    ...place of employment, was ineligible for benefits. See also Amer. Broad. Cos., Inc. v. District of Columbia Dep't of Employment Servs., 822 A.2d 1085, 1087-90 (D.C.2003). The result in the Washington Post case, however, was controlled by D.C.Code § 46-310(f) (1973), which by its terms disqua......
  • Levy v. D.C. Rental Hous. Comm'n, Nos. 14–AA–0623
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • November 19, 2015
    ...rationally from the facts and is supported by substantial evidence." American Broad. Co. v. District of Columbia Dep't of Emp't Servs., 822 A.2d 1085, 1089 (D.C.2003). This Court will defer to an agency's reasonable interpretation of ambiguous language in a statute that the agency administe......
  • Garcia v. AA Roofing Co., No. 14–CV–1095.
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • September 10, 2015
    ...disputes among citizens of the District, Maryland, and Virginia where choice of law and conflicts of law issues abound." Jacobson, 822 A.2d at 1085. This case does not "involv[e the] possible peculiarities of state law from a geographically distant jurisdiction rarely 125 A.3d 1118addressed......
  • MAJERLE MGMT. v. DC RENTAL HOUSING COM'N, No. 02-AA-427.
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • December 30, 2004
    ...of reasonably consistent decisions concerning questions that arise within its jurisdiction. ABC, Inc. v. D.C. Dep't of Employment Servs., 822 A.2d 1085, 1088-89 (D.C.2003). We engage, therefore, in a limited review of administrative agency decisions, deferring to them so long as they flow r......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
7 cases
  • United Parcel Service v. DC DOES, No. 02-AA-1288.
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • October 30, 2003
    ...place of employment, was ineligible for benefits. See also Amer. Broad. Cos., Inc. v. District of Columbia Dep't of Employment Servs., 822 A.2d 1085, 1087-90 (D.C.2003). The result in the Washington Post case, however, was controlled by D.C.Code § 46-310(f) (1973), which by its terms disqua......
  • Levy v. D.C. Rental Hous. Comm'n, Nos. 14–AA–0623
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • November 19, 2015
    ...rationally from the facts and is supported by substantial evidence." American Broad. Co. v. District of Columbia Dep't of Emp't Servs., 822 A.2d 1085, 1089 (D.C.2003). This Court will defer to an agency's reasonable interpretation of ambiguous language in a statute that the agency administe......
  • Garcia v. AA Roofing Co., No. 14–CV–1095.
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • September 10, 2015
    ...disputes among citizens of the District, Maryland, and Virginia where choice of law and conflicts of law issues abound." Jacobson, 822 A.2d at 1085. This case does not "involv[e the] possible peculiarities of state law from a geographically distant jurisdiction rarely 125 A.3d 1118addressed......
  • MAJERLE MGMT. v. DC RENTAL HOUSING COM'N, No. 02-AA-427.
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • December 30, 2004
    ...of reasonably consistent decisions concerning questions that arise within its jurisdiction. ABC, Inc. v. D.C. Dep't of Employment Servs., 822 A.2d 1085, 1088-89 (D.C.2003). We engage, therefore, in a limited review of administrative agency decisions, deferring to them so long as they flow r......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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