Which Petard?

By Bill Wright

Title VII says a union may not refuse to refer a person for work on discriminatory grounds. In a recent case, the plaintiff alleged that, because of her sex, her union never referred her to a job driving for movie production companies. The trial court dismissed the case, noting the plaintiff was “hoist by her own petard” by alleging she knew of the discriminatory conduct more than 300 days before filing. The 7th Circuit rejected the trial court’s reasoning—the plaintiff had alleged failure to refer her to available jobs within 300 days. On appeal, the union also argued that it never made a referral; the employers simply chose drivers from available resumes. But, according to the plaintiff, the union representative told her he did refer drivers for jobs when there were openings. The union might be the one hoist by an admission. The parties will have to ask questions and have depositions before the courts can tell whether the union violated the law. It just goes to show that, the right allegation will cause protracted litigation even without proof. Stuart v. Local 727, IBT, No. 14-1710 (7th Cir. Nov. 14, 2014).