The Supreme Court of Rhode Island held that the language in the collective bargaining agreement between the defendant employer and the plaintiff’s union was insufficiently explicit to preclude the plaintiff from seeking redress in a judicial, rather than arbitral, forum. In this case, the plaintiff appealed a superior court’s order to submit to arbitration as indicated by the collective bargaining agreement because she claimed that she had not waived her right to litigate specific statutory state law claims. The Supreme Court of Rhode Island relied on Alexander v. Gardner-Denver and Wright v. Universal Maritime Service Corporation to determine that plaintiffs must only arbitrate those issues that are reflected in their contract; plaintiffs do not waive their right to litigate issues that are not covered in sufficiently specific language. The Court held that in this case, since the Rhode Island statutes were not mentioned in the collective bargaining agreement, the plaintiff was not obligated to arbitrate them, but could proceed in court.
Weeks v. 735 Putnam Pike Operation, 2014 WL 800466 (Feb. 28, 2014). See Alexander v. Gardner-Denver Co., 415 U.S. 36 (1974); Wright v. Universal Maritime Service Corp., 525 U.S. 70 (1998).
(Development authored by Joanna Solloway)