Johnson v. Hydraulic Research & Mfg. Co.

CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtASHBY; STEPHENS, Acting P.J., and HASTINGS
Citation139 Cal.Rptr. 136,70 Cal.App.3d 675
Parties, 96 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2466, 82 Lab.Cas. P 55,082 Keith E. JOHNSON, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. HYDRAULIC RESEARCH AND MANUFACTURING CO., a Division of Textron, Inc., a corporation and Eugene Cantreau, Defendants and Respondents. Civ. 48940.
Decision Date14 June 1977

Page 136

139 Cal.Rptr. 136
70 Cal.App.3d 675, 96 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2466,
82 Lab.Cas. P 55,082
Keith E. JOHNSON, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
HYDRAULIC RESEARCH AND MANUFACTURING CO., a Division of Textron, Inc., a corporation and Eugene Cantreau, Defendants and Respondents.
Civ. 48940.
Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 5, California.
June 14, 1977.
Rehearing Denied July 14, 1977.

[70 Cal.App.3d 677]

Page 138

Arthur D. Cohen, Los Angeles, for plaintiff and appellant.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Jack H. Halgren and Peter J. Thurston, Los Angeles, for defendants and respondents.

ASHBY, Associate Justice.

Plaintiff Johnson brought this action alleging various causes of action against his former employer, defendant Hydraulic Research and Manufacturing Company, and the company's manager of compensation and employee relations, defendant Cantreau. The trial court granted defendants' motion for summary judgment on the ground that the action was barred by plaintiff's failure to exhaust the grievance [70 Cal.App.3d 678] and arbitration remedies provided in the collective bargaining agreement governing the employees. Plaintiff appeals.

The factual background of the dispute is that on August 16, 1974, plaintiff, who was employed as a shop helper, was found vomiting and in acute distress in the company men's room. He was referred to Dr. Miller of the San Fernando Medical Clinic. Dr. Miller subsequently reported to the company that blood tests indicated plaintiff had an abnormally high level of secobarbital and amobarbital in the blood. Based on the results of the test and observations by plaintiff's superior that he had appeared shaky and uncoordinated while performing certain tasks, 1 the company terminated plaintiff. Pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement, plaintiff filed a grievance, which was resolved against him. He then requested arbitration, but subsequently the arbitration was abandoned.

Plaintiff then filed this action in superior court, alleging three causes of action against defendants. 2 Plaintiff's three alleged causes of action are: (1) conspiracy to violate plaintiff's rights under Business and Professions Code section 2379; 3 (2) wrongful interference with plaintiff's contractual relations with the doctor; and (3) defamation. The pleadings and affidavits and papers introduced on the motion for summary judgment show that plaintiff contends he was a private patient of Dr. Miller's and

Page 139

that the doctor had no right to disclose to the company the results of the blood test. Plaintiff also contends he was taking drugs pursuant to a prescription, was able to perform his duties, and was unjustly discharged. On the other hand, the company contends that the examination was conducted pursuant to paragraph 5.31 of the collective bargaining [70 Cal.App.3d 679] agreement (authorizing the company to require an employee to submit to a medical examination to determine if the employee meets the company's requirements for safe and efficient continued employment) and that plaintiff was properly discharged.
DISCUSSION

The basic dispute in this case concerns whether the company had the right to the results of the medical examination and whether plaintiff was properly discharged for drug use which interfered with his job duties. As will be seen, the collective bargaining agreement governing the employees provided specific, exclusive grievance and arbitration procedures to resolve disputes of this nature. Plaintiff put into motion the grievance and arbitration procedures, but did not pursue them to a final conclusion. Because the procedures established in the collective bargaining agreement were intended to be exclusive, we conclude that plaintiff's failure to exhaust those procedures precludes the present attempt to resort to the courts instead.

It is well established that a party to a collective bargaining contract which provides grievance and arbitration machinery for the settlement of disputes within the scope of such contract must exhaust the internal remedies before resorting to the courts in the absence of facts excusing such exhaustion. (Cone v. Union Oil Co., 129 Cal.App.2d 558, 563--564, 277 P.2d 464; Terrell v. Local Lodge 758 etc. Machinists, 141 Cal.App.2d 17, 21--22, 296 P.2d 100; Hagin v. Pacific Gas & Elec. Co., 152 Cal.App.2d 93, 96, 312 P.2d 356; Stroman v. Atchison, T. & S.F. Ry. Co., 161 Cal.App.2d 151, 166, 326 P.2d 155; Thornton v. Victor Meat Co., 260 Cal.App.2d 452, 467, 67 Cal.Rptr. 887; Gutierrez v. Gaffers and Sattler Corp., 4 Cal.App.3d 731, 735, 84 Cal.Rptr. 571; Charles J. Rounds Co. v. Joint Council of Teamsters No. 42, 4 Cal.3d 888, 894--895, 95 Cal.Rptr. 53, 484 P.2d 1397.)

As explained in Cone v. Union Oil Co., supra 129 Cal.App.2d at page 564, 277 P.2d at page 468, '(t)his rule, which is analogous to the rule requiring the exhaustion of administrative remedies as a condition precedent to resorting to the courts (citation), is based on a practical approach to the myriad problems, complaints and grievances that arise under a collective bargaining agreement. It makes possible the settlement of such matters by a simple, expeditious and inexpensive procedure, and by persons who, generally, are intimately familiar therewith. (Citation.) The use of these internal remedies for the [70 Cal.App.3d 680] adjustment of grievances is designed not only to promote settlement thereof but also to foster more harmonious employee-employer relations. (Citation.) Such procedures, which have been worked out and adopted by the parties themselves, must be pursued to their conclusion before judicial action may be instituted unless circumstances exist which would excuse the failure to follow through with the contract remedies.'

We of course understand plaintiff's desire to remedy the breach of what he claims was a private doctor-patient relationship, the loss of his job, and the injury to his reputation which results from the employer's position as to the reason for his discharge. But the subject matter of the dispute is such that the collective bargaining agreement provided a method of resolving it. Plaintiff should have followed through with those procedures. 'A contrary rule which would permit an individual employee to completely sidestep available grievance procedures in favor of a lawsuit has little to command it. . . . (I) t would deprive employer and union of the ability to establish a uniform and exclusive method for orderly settlement of employee grievances. If a grievance procedure cannot be made exclusive, it loses much of its desirability as a method of settlement.'

Page 140

(Republic Steel v. Maddox, 379 U.S. 650, 653, 85 S.Ct. 614, 616, 13 L.Ed.2d 580.) The very fact that the agreement provides the employee a grievance and arbitration remedy for unjust discharge necessarily entails that the company's reasons for the discharge will be disclosed.

The collective bargaining agreement in this case contains the following pertinent clauses:

'3.51 The grievance and arbitration procedure provided for in this Article shall constitute the sole and exclusive method of adjustment and settlement between the parties of any and all grievances as herein defined.

'3.11 A grievance is hereby defined as any written claim or dispute between the Company and the Union or between the Company and an employee concerning wages, hours or working conditions or the interpretation or application of a specific clause or clauses of this Agreement.

'3.41 (Following a three-step grievance procedure, in) the event of a failure to accomplish a settlement of a grievance involving the interpretation or application of a specific clause or clauses of this Agreement, [70...

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17 practice notes
  • Plamer v. Regents of University of Cal., No. B154868.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • April 8, 2003
    ...be exhausted before bringing a civil action based on violation of the statute]. 7. Johnson v. Hydraulic Research & Mfg. Co. (1977) 70 Cal.App.3d 675, 679, 139 Cal.Rptr. 136 [grievance procedures in collective bargaining agreement intended as exclusive remedy for employee claiming improp......
  • Araiza v. National Steel and Shipbuilding Co., No. Civil 97-0819-B(LSP).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
    • July 23, 1997
    ...Araiza's FEHA claim and mandates arbitration in accordance with the CBA. Defendants cite Johnson v. Hydraulic Research & Mfg. Co., 70 Cal.App.3d 675, 139 Cal.Rptr. 136 (1977), but that case is not probative of the issue before this Court. The dispute in Johnson concerned the interpretat......
  • Bullock v. City of Antioch, A161029
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • May 6, 2022
    ...Com. (1999) 21 Cal.4th 489, 494–495, 87 Cal.Rptr.2d 702, 981 P.2d 543 ; Johnson v. Hydraulic Research and Manufacturing Co. (1977) 70 Cal.App.3d 675, 678–679, 139 Cal.Rptr. 136.) In addition, the grievance procedure document states employees "shall have the right to use the grievance p......
  • Alpha Beta, Inc. v. Superior Court (Nahm)
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • April 25, 1986
    ...214-216, 202 Cal.Rptr. 102) and exhaustion of contractual arbitration procedures (Johnson v. Hydraulic Research & Mfg. Co. (1977) 70 Cal.App.3d 675, 679, 139 Cal.Rptr. 136; cf. Labor Management Relations Act § 203(d) (29 U.S.C. § 173, subd. (d)); Steelworkers v. American Mfg. Co. (1960)......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
17 cases
  • Plamer v. Regents of University of Cal., No. B154868.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • April 8, 2003
    ...must be exhausted before bringing a civil action based on violation of the statute]. 7. Johnson v. Hydraulic Research & Mfg. Co. (1977) 70 Cal.App.3d 675, 679, 139 Cal.Rptr. 136 [grievance procedures in collective bargaining agreement intended as exclusive remedy for employee claiming impro......
  • Araiza v. National Steel and Shipbuilding Co., No. Civil 97-0819-B(LSP).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
    • July 23, 1997
    ...bars Araiza's FEHA claim and mandates arbitration in accordance with the CBA. Defendants cite Johnson v. Hydraulic Research & Mfg. Co., 70 Cal.App.3d 675, 139 Cal.Rptr. 136 (1977), but that case is not probative of the issue before this Court. The dispute in Johnson concerned the interpreta......
  • Bullock v. City of Antioch, A161029
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • May 6, 2022
    ...Com. (1999) 21 Cal.4th 489, 494–495, 87 Cal.Rptr.2d 702, 981 P.2d 543 ; Johnson v. Hydraulic Research and Manufacturing Co. (1977) 70 Cal.App.3d 675, 678–679, 139 Cal.Rptr. 136.) In addition, the grievance procedure document states employees "shall have the right to use the grievance proced......
  • Alpha Beta, Inc. v. Superior Court (Nahm)
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • April 25, 1986
    ...206, 214-216, 202 Cal.Rptr. 102) and exhaustion of contractual arbitration procedures (Johnson v. Hydraulic Research & Mfg. Co. (1977) 70 Cal.App.3d 675, 679, 139 Cal.Rptr. 136; cf. Labor Management Relations Act § 203(d) (29 U.S.C. § 173, subd. (d)); Steelworkers v. American Mfg. Co. (1960......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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