The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a Jewel Food Stores clerk, Patricia Rupcich, who maintains she inadvertently wheeled a bag of bird seed past the last store register, has cause to file a “duty of fair representation” (DFR) suit against her union, UFCW Local 881. The court found that the union failed to take reasonable steps to assure her grievance was properly progressed according to the Collective Bargaining Agreement and then failed to take it to arbitration. The Court based its finding on Section 301 of the Labor-Management Relations Act. Rupcich v. Food & Commercial Workers Local 881 (7th Cir. 2016)
In its ruling, the Court pointed out that in a separate but similar case, the Union did not hesitate to properly process up to and including arbitration the grievance of another Jewel employee who was fired for theft at the same store and who, according to the Court, had an arguably far weaker case than did Ms. Rupich.
In finding that Ms. Rupich had grounds for a DFR suit, the Court reversed the District Court’s grant of summary judgement in favor of UFCW Local 881.