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Barber v. Xerox Corp.

May 26, 2006

ROBERT J. BARBER, JR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
XEROX CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Scullin, Senior Judge

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff alleges that Defendant breached the collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") that it negotiated with Plaintiff's union, Local 14-A of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial & Textile Employees, AFL-CIO ("UNITE").

Currently before the Court are Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and Defendant's cross-motion for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

II. BACKGROUND*fn1

Plaintiff originally commenced this action in New York State Supreme Court, Cayuga County, alleging a breach-of-contract claim against Defendant. Relying upon 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b), Defendant removed this action to federal court, asserting that the contract to which Plaintiff referred in his complaint was "either or both the collective bargaining agreement between [Defendant] and . . . [UNITE] and/or the 'Xerox Corporation-UNITE 14-A Buy-Out Program' (the "Program"), negotiated between [Defendant] and UNITE 14-A." See Notice of Removal at ¶ 4. Defendant further asserted that "both the collective bargaining agreement and the Program are contracts as the term is used by the [Labor Management Relations] Act [("LMRA")], 29 U.S.C. § 185(a), and the action is therefore removable to this Court, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b)." See id. at ¶ 6 (citation omitted).

In its Memorandum-Decision and Order, dated September 21, 2004, the Court ruled on two of Plaintiff's motions. Plaintiff moved to remand this action to state court. In denying this motion, the Court held that the Program was a labor contract within the meaning of the LMRA, and that, therefore, the Court had subject matter jurisdiction over this claim.*fn2 See Dkt. No. 22 at 7. Plaintiff also moved to amend his complaint in order to add allegations that UNITE breached its duty of fair representation and that Defendant breached the CBA. The Court denied Plaintiff's motion to amend his complaint insofar as he sought to assert a claim against UNITE but permitted him to amend his complaint to assert a claim against Defendant for breaching the CBA. See id.

Although the Court's prior Memorandum-Decision and Order outlined the background of this case, a brief summary of the facts is necessary to place the current motions in context. In November 2002, Defendant announced a voluntary severance program, which it made available to eligible UNITE employees working at Defendant's Monroe County Operations Plant. The official name of the program was the "XEROX CORPORATION - UNITE 14-A Buy-Out Program" (the "Program"). See Plaintiff's Exhibit "B" at 1. Defendant limited Program participation to "a maximum of two hundred and fifty (250) active, guaranteed UNITE 14-A bargaining unit members . . . ." See id. Eligible UNITE employees, who wanted to participate in the Program, were required to submit a "Voluntary Buy-Out Participation Request & General Release" form (the "Application") by December 30, 2002.*fn3 See id. Employees selected for participation in the Program would receive, "shortly after their departure date, a single Lump Sum payment that equals their then-present straight-time weekly pay times the number of weeks remaining between their departure date and March 13, 2005." See id.

In early February 2003, Defendant's Industrial Relations Department suspected Plaintiff of theft from a plant tool crib. Specifically, it suspected that Plaintiff had withdrawn items from the crib that he could not have used in his department. On February 26, 2003, Defendant's Security Department personnel interviewed Plaintiff in the presence of UNITE representatives. Plaintiff could not explain his actions and did not provide any information regarding the missing crib items. Defendant immediately suspended Plaintiff that day, with the intention of terminating him, for violating an established Rule of Conduct.

On March 5, 2003, Plaintiff filed a grievance requesting reinstatement so that he could receive the benefits of the Program. Plaintiff's grievance was denied through the Step 4 level, and UNITE withdrew his grievance on July 3, 2003, see Plaintiff's Amended Complaint at ¶ 4, opting not to proceed to arbitration.Based upon the evidence that Defendant's Security Department gathered as part of its investigation of the incident, Defendant finalized Plaintiff's termination immediately after the union withdrew the grievance.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

A court should grant a motion for summary judgment only "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The court must draw all inferences and resolve all ambiguities in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See Hayes v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Corr., 84 F.3d 614, 619 (2d Cir. 1996) (citation omitted). However, where reasonable minds, viewing the record as a whole, could not find for the non-moving party, there is no genuine issue of material fact. See id. (quotation omitted).

As to the initial burden, the moving party must demonstrate the absence of any genuine issues of material fact. See Adams v. Dep't of Juvenile Justice of City of N.Y., 143 F.3d 61, 65 (2d Cir. 1998) (citation omitted). Upon satisfying this burden, the non-moving party "must come forward with 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (quoting Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 56(e)) (other citation omitted). The non-moving party may not simply rest on its pleadings, but rather it must adduce significant probative evidence which tends to support its complaint. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986) (citation omitted). Finally, in deciding a summary ...


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