Yellow Freight System, Inc. v. Martin, Nos. 89-4079

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore MARTIN and MILBURN, Circuit Judges, and ROSEN; BOYCE F. MARTIN, Jr.
Citation954 F.2d 353
Parties121 Lab.Cas. P 10,094, 21 Fed.R.Serv.3d 677, 7 IER Cases 458, 1992 O.S.H.D. (CCH) P 29,580 YELLOW FREIGHT SYSTEM, INC., Petitioner, v. Lynn MARTIN, Secretary of Labor, United States Department of Labor, Respondent.
Decision Date16 January 1992
Docket NumberNos. 89-4079,90-3943

Page 353

954 F.2d 353
121 Lab.Cas. P 10,094, 21 Fed.R.Serv.3d
677, 7 IER Cases 458,
1992 O.S.H.D. (CCH) P 29,580
YELLOW FREIGHT SYSTEM, INC., Petitioner,
v.
Lynn MARTIN, Secretary of Labor, United States Department of
Labor, Respondent.
Nos. 89-4079, 90-3943.
United States Court of Appeals,
Sixth Circuit.
Argued Oct. 3, 1991.
Decided Jan. 16, 1992.

Page 354

Jeffrey L. Madoff (argued), Patrick W. Kocian (briefed), James D. Shepherd, Matkov, Salzman, Madoff & Gunn, Chicago, Ill., for petitioner.

Ann Rosenthal (argued), Cynthia Attwood, U.S. Dept. of Labor, Office of the Sol., Mary E. Gleaves (briefed), Office of the Dept. of Labor, John B. Miles, Jr., Office of U.S. Dept. of Labor, Directorate of Field Operations, Washington, D.C., for respondent.

Before MARTIN and MILBURN, Circuit Judges, and ROSEN, District Judge. *

BOYCE F. MARTIN, Jr., Circuit Judge.

This case requires us to balance the need for expeditious resolution of employment discharge cases and the employer's right to a full and fair adjudicative process. In this case, Yellow Freight System, Inc., challenges the Secretary of Labor's decision that Yellow Freight violated 49 U.S.C. App. § 2305(a), which is part of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982. In this opinion, 49 U.S.C. App. § 2305(a) and 49 U.S.C. App. § 2305(b) will be referred to as § 405(a) and § 405(b), respectively, which are the section numbers used by Congress in the original act. In support of their challenge, Yellow Freight argues (1) the Secretary incorrectly interpreted § 405(a), and (2) the Secretary violated its due process rights by refusing to reopen the administrative hearing. For the following reasons, we refuse to enforce the Secretary's decision.

Yellow Freight is a large interstate trucking company with several hundred terminals nationwide. Yellow Freight hired Thomas E. Moyer, the complainant, as a truck driver in 1978. On February 29, 1988, Yellow Freight dispatched Moyer from its Richfield, Ohio, terminal to pick up a truck. While returning to the terminal, Moyer's truck suffered a mechanical breakdown. Moyer contacted a Yellow Freight dispatcher who instructed him to go to the

Page 355

nearest telephone and, presumably, inform the company's mechanics of his situation.

As Moyer descended from the truck, he aggravated a pre-existing medical condition. Moyer contacted the dispatcher who once again told Moyer to go to a telephone, call the mechanics, and return to the truck to await help. Another Yellow Freight driver stopped to assist Moyer and eventually drove him to the terminal. At the terminal, Moyer told the dispatcher that he was ill and needed to go to a hospital. The dispatcher insisted that Moyer inform company mechanics of the breakdown and report the location of the truck. Eventually an ambulance arrived and medical personnel transported Moyer to the hospital.

After the incident, Yellow Freight placed Moyer on a four-day suspension for returning to the terminal and leaving the truck unattended and for failing to follow company procedure for drivers experiencing mechanical breakdowns. Between June and October 1988, Yellow Freight issued Moyer four warning letters for being unavailable for dispatch without an excuse. The final warning concerned Moyer's absence on October 5, 1988. On that date Moyer testified at a grievance proceeding for Robert E. Lee, a fellow employee. In this proceeding, Lee challenged Yellow Freight's decision to fire him following his receipt of a letter from Yellow Freight that allegedly gave him 72 hours to appear at the terminal. Moyer testified that Lee had a back injury and had been unable to respond to the company's demand. After issuing this letter concerning Moyer's October 5 absence, Yellow Freight terminated Moyer on November 9, 1988.

On November 14, 1988, Moyer filed a complaint with the Secretary of Labor alleging that Yellow Freight had violated § 405 of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act by discharging him in retaliation for his refusal to drive a truck while he was ill on February 29, 1988. In a letter dated November 30, 1988, the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration notified Yellow Freight of the complaint, and requested the following information:

[A] full and complete written account of the facts and a statement of your position in respect to the allegation that Mr. Moyer was discharged on November 9, 1988 in reprisal for not operating his commercial vehicle because of illness.

Subsequently, in a letter dated March 17, 1989, OSHA's regional administrator informed Yellow Freight of his findings. He stated:

The U.S. Department of Labor has completed its investigation of the complaint of Thomas E. Moyer, a former employee, who alleged that your company discriminated against him in violation of section 405(b) of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982 (49 U.S.C. 2310 et seq.). As set forth in the enclosed Findings, I have determined that Mr. Moyer's complaint has no merit.

Moyer objected to OSHA's findings and requested an administrative hearing. After an evidentiary hearing, an administrative law judge recommended the Secretary find no violation of § 405(b) because on February 29, 1988, Moyer was not engaged in any activity protected by that provision. The administrative law judge noted that although Moyer testified that he believed his discharge may have also resulted from his testimony in the Lee grievance proceeding, there were insufficient evidence on the nature of the Lee proceeding to find a violation of another provision, § 405(a).

After reviewing the record, the Secretary agreed with the administrative law judge that Yellow Freight's discharge of Moyer did not violate § 405(b). The Secretary, however, contrary to the finding of the administrative law judge, concluded Moyer's discharge violated § 405(a). The Secretary found that Yellow Freight discharged Moyer in retaliation for his testimony at Lee's grievance hearing, and that the nature of Lee's hearing rendered Moyer's testimony protected under § 405(a). The Secretary concluded there was sufficient evidence in the record as a whole to determine Mr. Lee's grievance proceeding related to a violation of a commercial motor vehicle safety rule. The Secretary stated:

Page 356

The proceeding need only be "related to" a safety violation. The violation need not comprise the only or even the predominant subject of the proceeding. Here, [Lee] testified that during the 72-hour period in question he "was bedfast" on "serious" medication due to "back problems." He believed that the medication and illness impaired his ability to work. As a driver for [Yellow Freight] his primary duty was the operation of commercial motor vehicles. [Yellow Freight] directed [Lee] to report to work, vehicle operation in violation of 49 C.F.R. § 392.3 being the anticipated work assignment. The record is devoid of any evidence, and [Yellow Freight] has not argued, that it intended to assign [Lee] nondriving duties. I deem [Lee's] grievance proceeding, wherein he challenged being discharged when too ill and impaired to report, to be sufficiently related to a safety violation to afford [Moyer] protection for his testimony about [Lee's] health.

(citations and footnotes omitted). The Secretary ordered Yellow Freight to reinstate Moyer, and remanded the case to the administrative law judge for a determination of the appropriate relief.

Prior to remand, Yellow...

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62 practice notes
  • G.B v. Nancy H. Rogers Attorney Gen. Of Ohio, Case No. 1:08-cv-437.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
    • March 31, 2010
    ...fundamental elements of procedural due process are notice and an opportunity to be heard. See, e.g., Yellow Freight Sys., Inc. v. Martin, 954 F.2d 353, 357 (6th Cir.1992). In this context, Ohio Rev.Code § 2950.01(E)(1)(a) requires that an individual convicted of pandering obscenity be autom......
  • Pila‘a 400, LLC v. Bd. of Land & Natural Res., No. SCWC–28358.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Hawai'i
    • February 14, 2014
    ...the case.’ " Charles H. Koch et al., Administrative Law and Practice § 5:32 (3d ed. 2010) (quoting Yellow Freight Sys., Inc. v. Martin, 954 F.2d 353, 357 (6th Cir.1992) ); see also Mullane v. Cent. Hanover Bank & Trust Co., 339 U.S. 306, 314, 70 S.Ct. 652, 94 L.Ed. 865 (1950) ("An elementar......
  • Vlcek v. Chodkowski, No. 26078.
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • May 15, 2015
    ...“[t]he fundamental elements of procedural due process are notice and an opportunity to be heard.” Yellow Freight Sys., Inc. v. Martin, 954 F.2d 353, 357 (6th Cir.1992). Accord In re Julien Co., 146 F.3d 420, 425 (6th Cir.1998). Herein, before he suffered any sort of deprivation of property,......
  • J.D. Partnership v. Berlin Tp. Bd. of Trustees, No. 2:00-CV-787.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
    • June 28, 2005
    ...them of the essential elements of procedural due process: notice and an opportunity to be heard. Yellow Freight Sys., Inc. v. Martin, 954 F.2d 353, 357 (6th Cir.1992). Instead, Plaintiffs classify Defendants' behavior regarding their zoning applications as arbitrary and unlawful. (Doc. # 60......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
61 cases
  • G.B v. Nancy H. Rogers Attorney Gen. Of Ohio, Case No. 1:08-cv-437.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
    • March 31, 2010
    ...fundamental elements of procedural due process are notice and an opportunity to be heard. See, e.g., Yellow Freight Sys., Inc. v. Martin, 954 F.2d 353, 357 (6th Cir.1992). In this context, Ohio Rev.Code § 2950.01(E)(1)(a) requires that an individual convicted of pandering obscenity be autom......
  • Pila‘a 400, LLC v. Bd. of Land & Natural Res., No. SCWC–28358.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Hawai'i
    • February 14, 2014
    ...the case.’ " Charles H. Koch et al., Administrative Law and Practice § 5:32 (3d ed. 2010) (quoting Yellow Freight Sys., Inc. v. Martin, 954 F.2d 353, 357 (6th Cir.1992) ); see also Mullane v. Cent. Hanover Bank & Trust Co., 339 U.S. 306, 314, 70 S.Ct. 652, 94 L.Ed. 865 (1950) ("An elementar......
  • Vlcek v. Chodkowski, No. 26078.
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • May 15, 2015
    ...“[t]he fundamental elements of procedural due process are notice and an opportunity to be heard.” Yellow Freight Sys., Inc. v. Martin, 954 F.2d 353, 357 (6th Cir.1992). Accord In re Julien Co., 146 F.3d 420, 425 (6th Cir.1998). Herein, before he suffered any sort of deprivation of property,......
  • J.D. Partnership v. Berlin Tp. Bd. of Trustees, No. 2:00-CV-787.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
    • June 28, 2005
    ...them of the essential elements of procedural due process: notice and an opportunity to be heard. Yellow Freight Sys., Inc. v. Martin, 954 F.2d 353, 357 (6th Cir.1992). Instead, Plaintiffs classify Defendants' behavior regarding their zoning applications as arbitrary and unlawful. (Doc. # 60......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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