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Munger v. Cascade Steel Rolling Mills, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Oregon

May 1, 2019

JOSEPH J. MUNGER, SR, Plaintiff,
v.
CASCADE STEEL ROLLING MILLS, INC, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          STACIE F. BECKERMAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Joseph J. Munger (“Munger”) brings this action against his former employer Cascade Steel Rolling Mills, Inc. (“Cascade”), alleging claims for violations of the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), the Oregon Family Leave Act (“OFLA”), the Oregon Sick Leave Act (“OSLA”), and wrongful discharge. (ECF No. 1.)

         Pending before the Court is Cascade's motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 28.) The Court has jurisdiction over this case under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and all parties have consented to the jurisdiction of a U.S. Magistrate Judge under 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). For the following reasons, the Court grants in part, and denies in part, Cascade's motion for summary judgment.

         BACKGROUND

         For twenty-three years, Munger worked as a billet crane operator at Cascade's steel manufacturing facility in McMinnville, Oregon. (Compl. ¶¶ 4, 7-8.) Munger was a member of the United Steel, Paper and Forestry Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Worker's International Union, AFL-CIO, Local 8378 (“Union”). (Declaration of Anthony Kuchulis, Jan. 15, 2019 (hereinafter “Kuchulis Decl.”), Ex. 1 at 29.)

         On April 1, 2016, the Union and Cascade entered into a collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”). (Kuchulis Decl., Ex. 2 at 1.) The CBA recognized the Union as the exclusive collective bargaining representative for all of Cascade's employees at the McMinnville facility. (Kuchulis Decl., Ex. 2 at 1.) Under the CBA, Cascade retained the “right to hire, promote, demote, lay-off, discipline, suspend or discharge employees for just cause[.]” (Kuchulis Decl., Ex. 2 at 3.) The CBA provided that “any dispute” “between the Company [Cascade] and the Union or the employees represented by the Union during the term of this Agreement . . . shall be settled in accordance with” a three-step grievance process. (Kuchulis Decl., Ex. 2 at 48.)

         If one party was not satisfied with the grievance process, the CBA allowed that party to request an arbitrator to settle the dispute. (Kuchulis Decl., Ex. 2 at 49.) The CBA identified the scope of the arbitrator's authority as follows:

         Section 28.3: Arbitration

A. . . . The arbitrator shall have the sole right to determine the rules and procedures to be followed in the conduct of the arbitration hearing, and the arbitrator shall have authority to make decisions only with respect to the grievance and issue submitted and shall have no authority to modify, add to, alter or detract from the terms of any provisions of this Agreement.
D. The award of the arbitrator shall be final and binding on all parties.

(Kuchulis Decl., Ex. 2 at 49.)

         In September 2015 and again in May 2016, Munger requested leave for a medical condition. (Compl. ¶ 9.) Cascade suspended Munger on October 26, 2015, and terminated him on June 2, 2016. (Compl. ¶ 11.)

         On June 9, 2016, the Union filed a grievance on Munger's behalf, alleging that Cascade fired Munger for exercising his FMLA and OFLA rights, not for just cause. (Kuchulis Decl., Ex. 8.) The parties first tried to resolve the dispute informally, but ultimately proceeded to arbitration on March 23, 2017 in accordance with the CBA. (Kuchulis Decl., Ex. 1.)

         During the course of the arbitration proceeding, the parties offered opening statements, witness testimony, and post-hearing briefing. (Kuchulis Decl., Exs. 1, 10.) On July 7, 2017, the arbitrator issued a written ruling, noting that the parties “stipulate that the issue presented here is whether the Company [Cascade] had ‘just cause to terminate Joe Munger.'” (Kuchulis Decl., Ex. 11 at 8.) The arbitrator concluded that Cascade ...


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