Conrail Union, provided Glass with documentation which plaintiff claims was sufficient to substantiate his employment. Mr. Farley is said to have followed up this action with a letter dated December 15, 1986, in which he "reiterated that [plaintiff] was on a medical leave of absence and asked that [plaintiff's] request for reinstatement be acted upon." Complaint at paragraph 19. Glass responded by letter dated December 19, 1986, stating that Conrail did not have sufficient record of his employment "to justify [his] restoration to Conrail service," but that his decision "was subject to reconsideration on request" if plaintiff could provide "appropriate documentation." Complaint at paragraph 20. Then, by letter dated January 28, 1987, Mr. Glass went on to explain more specifically that Conrail had no record of plaintiff's previous employment or seniority on its most recent official seniority roster, a roster Conrail posts each year to indicate the work history of its employees as required by Conrail's agreement with the UTU. Without such a listing, they could not allow him to return to Conrail as a former employee.
Plaintiff claims that thereafter he communicated with Conrail, through his attorney, by telephone and letter "several times" in his efforts to obtain reinstatement. Complaint at paragraph 22. The point at which plaintiff finally made written application to Conrail and Metro-North to become an assistant conductor for Metro-North is indicated by the complaint, and was confirmed at oral argument by plaintiff's attorney to be April 1, 1992.
Plaintiff claims this request was "timely," but that his request was denied "on the ground that he had not served at Conrail." Complaint at paragraph 28.
Plaintiff now sues for violation of his rights under the Implementation Agreement and under § 1145 of the NRSA, 45 U.S.C. § 588; for violation of his constitutional rights under color of law under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; and for deprivation of his "vested property rights"
without due process of law in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. He seeks declarations that he was employed as a trainman for Conrail from June 11, 1976 to February 10, 1978 and that he is entitled to his "seniority and the attendant transfer rights under the Implementation Agreement." Complaint at paragraph II. Plaintiff also seeks an Order from this court requiring Metro-North to appoint him to the position of assistant conductor; ordering them to give him full back-pay, seniority, and benefits including "all promotions and raises he would have received had he been reinstated to Conrail and transferred to Metro Northon [sic] August 29, 1986,"
the date on which he wrote to Conrail to inform them that he was ready to return to work; and holding it jointly and severally liable with Conrail for "all lost pay, benefits and seniority suffered by plaintiff,"
along with reasonable attorney's fees and costs incurred in prosecuting this action.
In the motions presently before us, defendant Conrail moves to dismiss plaintiff's NRSA and Implementation Agreement claims for want of subject matter jurisdiction, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1); to dismiss plaintiff's § 1983 and Due Process claims for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6); or to alternatively dismiss plaintiff's § 1983 claim as time-barred under the applicable statute of limitations. Defendant Metro-North moves to dismiss all claims for want of subject matter jurisdiction, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1); to dismiss plaintiff's § 1983 claim for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) because the claim is time-barred under the applicable statute of limitations; and for sanctions against plaintiff under Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Not surprisingly, plaintiff opposes all of the above motions. In addition, plaintiff requests leave from this court to amend his complaint to include claims under (1) the Americans with Disabilities Act, as codified at 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq.; (2) § 296 of the New York Human Rights Law; and (3) § 213 paragraph 8 of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules ("CPLR").
We address the issues raised by the motions to dismiss for want of subject matter jurisdiction first. To the extent that defendants' motions overlap, they will be addressed simultaneously.
A. Dismissal for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction
Both defendants maintain that this court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over at least some of plaintiff's claims.
They reason that our hearing of these claims is preempted by the administrative procedures provided for by Congress under the RLA. Defendants argue that these procedures serve as the exclusive "pre-appeal" remedy for plaintiff's present claims since, they contend, plaintiff's claims constitute a "minor" dispute. We agree that the arbitration procedures available under the RLA do preempt our hearing of this case, resulting in a lack of subject matter jurisdiction, but only as to some of plaintiff's asserted claims.
The RLA was enacted by Congress "to promote stability in labor-management relations by providing a framework for resolving labor disputes in the railroad industry." Milam v. Herrlin, 819 F. Supp. 295, 300-01 (S.D.N.Y. 1993) (quoting Melanson v. United Air Lines, Inc. 931 F.2d 558, 561 (9th Cir. 1991) cert. denied 116 L. Ed. 2d 150, 112 S. Ct. 189 (1991). The Act "establishes an arbitration system that preempts other avenues of securing relief . . . [for] employee grievances" rising out of collective bargaining agreements. 819 F. Supp. at 301. Within this arbitration system, the Act divides claims rising out of collective bargaining agreements into two categories: "major" and "minor" disputes. Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Co. v. Buell, 480 U.S. 557, 562, 94 L. Ed. 2d 563, 107 S. Ct. 1410 (1986).
Minor disputes "[are] subject to compulsory and binding arbitration before the National Railroad Adjustment Board [("the NRAB")] . . . or before an adjustment board [("another board")] established by the employer and the unions representing the employees." Consolidated Rail Corp. v. Railway Labor Executives, 491 U.S. 299, 303-04, 105 L. Ed. 2d 250, 109 S. Ct. 2477 (1989) (citing §§ 3 and 3 Second of the RLA, 45 U.S.C. §§ 153 and 153 Second). See, e.g., DeClara v. Metropolitan Transportation Authority, 748 F. Supp. 92 (S.D.N.Y. 1990); Baylis v. Marriott Corp., 843 F.2d 658 (2d Cir. 1988); Andrews v. Louisville & Nashville Railroad Co., 406 U.S. 320, 32 L. Ed. 2d 95, 92 S. Ct. 1562 (1972). One of the terms of this Implementation Agreement created an adjustment board to hear disputes based in the Agreement's provisions, as permitted by Congress under § 3 Second of the RLA, 45 U.S.C. § 153 Second.
The Supreme Court examined the distinction between major and minor disputes, and articulated a standard for distinguishing between them in Consolidated Rail Corp. v. Railway Labor Executives, supra. Major disputes, the Court explained, involve attempts to change the rights of employees "as a class," Id. at 302 (quoting § 2 Seventh of the RLA, 45 U.S.C. § 152 Seventh), by seeking either to secure a new collective bargaining agreement or to change the terms of an existing one. Id. (citing Elgin, J. & E. R. Co. v. Burley, 325 U.S. 711, 723, 89 L. Ed. 1886, 65 S. Ct. 1282 (1945). Minor disputes, by contrast:
relate either to the meaning or proper application of a particular provision with reference to a specific situation or to an omitted case. In the latter event the claim is founded upon some incident of the employment relation, or [of] an asserted one, independent of the [provisions] covered by the collective bargaining agreement . . . . In either case the claim is to rights accrued, not merely to have new ones created for the future.