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RODOLICO v. UNISYS CORP.

May 1, 2000

ANDREW J. RODOLICO, ON BEHALF OF HIMSELF AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, HOWARD K. BENJAMIN, ON BEHALF OF HIMSELF AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, ROBERT G. BOZZONE, ON BEHALF OF HIMSELF AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, MARVIN STALL, ON BEHALF OF HIMSELF AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, MELVYN RUBENSTEIN, ON BEHALF OF HIMSELF AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, ROBERT E. WECHSLER, ON BEHALF OF HIMSELF AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS,
V.
UNISYS CORPORATION, DEFENDANT. UNISYS CORPORATION, THIRD-PARTY PLAINTIFF, V. ENGINEERS UNION, LOCAL 444, THIRD-PARTY DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Spatt, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER

In its August 25, 1999 decision, this Court held that an employer being sued for age discrimination, based partly upon the terms of a Collective Bargaining Agreement and a Performance Planning and Evaluation Program ("PP & E"), may seek contribution under the New York Human Rights Law ("NYHRL") and CPLR 1401 from the union that was a party to those labor agreements. See Rodolico v. Unisys Corp., 189 F.R.D. 245 (E.D.N.Y. 1999). As a result of this decision, pursuant to Rule 14 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ("Fed. R. Civ.P."), the Court granted Unisys' motion for leave to file a third-party complaint against Engineers Union Local 444 ("Local 444" or the "Union") to the extent it seeks contribution under the NYHRL. While the Court noted that timely motions for leave to implead non-parties should be freely granted, and that the third-party complaint was not obviously without merit, the prior decision did leave open the obvious right of the Union to file a motion to dismiss after being served with the third-party complaint.

Presently before the Court is the Union's motion to dismiss the third-party complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) on the basis that Unisys' state law claim for contribution is preempted by the federal labor law duty of fair representation ("DFR"). This issue was not raised nor examined in the Court's prior opinion granting leave to Unisys to file a third-party complaint. Alternatively, the Union claims that because Unisys' claim against it is arbitrable under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement ("CBA"), the third-party complaint must be stayed pending arbitration.

I. BACKGROUND

The underling facts of the complaint were detailed in the Court's August 25, 1999 decision and will not be repeated here. In short, the plaintiffs allege that Unisys violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621, et seq. (the "ADEA"), and the New York State Human Rights Law, N.Y. Exec. Law § 290, et seq. (the "NYHRL") in connection with a reduction in force ("RIF"). The putative plaintiffs, all members of Local 444, allege that Unisys' policies and practices in connection with the RIF, discriminated against older employees in violation of the ADEA and the NYHRL. The plaintiffs' allegations can be summarized as follows:

The layoff discriminated against older employees by disproportionately selecting them for discharge, by discriminatorily implementing a provision in a collective bargaining agreement giving Unisys discretion in selecting employees for lay off, and by using evaluation practices which, as described below, disfavored older workers.

Plaintiffs' Complaint at ¶ 2.

On October 22, 1999, Unisys filed its third-party complaint against the Union. The third-party complaint summarizes the facts set-forth in the plaintiffs' complaint and adds the following:

Plaintiffs make two assertions against Unisys that impact on Unisys' claims against the Union. First, at least one class representative claims that Article 11 discriminated against employees age 40 and older. Second, plaintiffs assert that the RIF reflected a departure from age neutrality. Plaintiffs' claims, therefore, depend on evidence that the PP & E was biased against older workers.

Unisys' Third-Party Complain at ¶ 13. Essentially, in support of its third-party complaint, Unisys argues that the Union's participation in the process leading to the alleged unlawful discrimination, namely, the Union's actions that led to the performance appraisal system and the Union's agreement to a three-tiered, weighted seniority system, makes it appropriate to hold the Union accountable for contribution for its proportionate share of any damages that may ultimately be awarded to the plaintiffs.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)

On a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the Court should dismiss the complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) if it appears "beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Northrop v. Hoffman of Simsbury, Inc., 134 F.3d 41, 44 (2d Cir. 1997) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 101-02, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 [1957]); see also IUE AFL-CIO Pension Fund v. Herrmann, 9 F.3d 1049, 1052 (2d Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 822, 115 S.Ct. 86, 130 L.Ed.2d 38 (1994). The Second Circuit stated that in deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, "a district court must limit itself to facts stated in the complaint or in documents attached to the complaint as exhibits or incorporated in the complaint by reference." Newman & Schwartz v. Asplundh Tree Expert Co., Inc., 102 F.3d 660, 662 (2d Cir. 1996) (quoting Kramer v. Time Warner, Inc., 937 F.2d 767, 773 [2d Cir. 1991]); see also International Audiotext Network, Inc. v. AT & T Co., 62 F.3d 69, 72 (2d Cir. 1995); Paulemon v. Tobin, 30 F.3d 307, 308-09 (2d Cir. 1994).

It is not the Court's function to weigh the evidence that might be presented at a trial; the Court must merely determine whether the complaint itself is legally sufficient, see Goldman v. Belden, 754 F.2d 1059, 1067 (2d Cir. 1985), and in doing so, it is well settled that the Court must accept the factual allegations of the complaint as true, see Strom v. Goldman, Sachs & Co., 202 F.3d 138, 140 (2d Cir. 1999); LaBounty v. Adler, 933 F.2d 121, 123 (2d Cir. 1991); Proctor & Gamble Co. v. Big Apple Indus. Bldgs., Inc., 879 F.2d 10, 14 (2d Cir. 1989), cert. denied, 493 U.S. 1022, 110 S.Ct. 723, 107 L.Ed.2d 743 (1990), and construe all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236, 94 S.Ct. 1683, 40 L.Ed.2d 90 (1974); Leeds v. Meltz, 85 ...


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