Jay W. Waks (Partner, Litigation; Chair, Employment & Labor Law Practice, New York Office) delivered a speech to a plenary session of the National Academy of Arbitrators 2009 Annual Meeting in Chicago on May 23. Jay's remarks, entitled "Collectively Bargained Arbitration May Be Hospitable to Statutory Claims. But Are Labor Arbitrators?", focused on the application of external law in labor arbitration, as well as the practical implications of the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision in 14 Penn Plaza v. Pyett (April 1, 2009). In Pyett, the Court held that parties to a collectively bargained agreement may agree to channel to labor arbitration an individual worker's claim of statutory discrimination, waiving the worker's right to sue his employer in court. The Supreme Court's decision, however, side-stepped questions regarding control of the arbitration process. Jay also discussed post-14 Penn Plaza decisions, among them the case of Kravar v. Triangle Services (May 19, 2009), released shortly before Jay's remarks, in which U.S. District Judge Richard Holwell of the Southern District of New York addressed a "control" issue left open in 14 Penn Plaza, and refused to compel arbitration where the union has the ability to block the individual worker from pursuing a statutory claim in labor arbitration.
May 23, 2009