JUSTICE BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court.
The question presented in this § 1983 action is whether a federal court may accord preclusive effect to an unappealed arbitration award in a case brought under that statute.
On November 26, 1976, petitioner Gary McDonald, then a West Branch, Mich., police officer, was discharged. McDonald
McDonald did not appeal the arbitrator's decision. Subsequently, however, he filed this § 1983 action against the city of West Branch and certain of its officials, including its Chief of Police, Paul Longstreet.
On appeal, the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the judgment against Longstreet. 709 F.2d 1505 (1983). The court reasoned that the parties had agreed to settle their disputes through the arbitration process and
At the outset, we must consider whether federal courts are obligated by statute to accord res judicata or collateral-estoppel effect to the arbitrator's decision. Respondents contend that the Federal Full Faith and Credit Statute, 28 U. S. C. § 1738, requires that we give preclusive effect to the arbitration award.
Our cases establish that § 1738 obliges federal courts to give the same preclusive effect to a state-court judgment as would the courts of the State rendering the judgment. See, e. g., Migra v. Warren City School District Board of Education, 465 U.S. 75, 81 (1984); Kremer v. Chemical Construction Corp., 456 U.S. 461, 466 (1982). As we explained in Kremer, however, "[a]rbitration decisions . . . are not subject to the mandate of § 1738." Id., at 477. This conclusion follows from the plain language of § 1738 which provides in pertinent part that the "judicial proceedings [of any court
Because federal courts are not required by statute to give res judicata or collateral-estoppel effect to an unappealed arbitration award, any rule of preclusion would necessarily be judicially fashioned. We therefore consider the question whether it was appropriate for the Court of Appeals to fashion such a rule.
On two previous occasions this Court has considered the contention that an award in an arbitration proceeding brought pursuant to a collective-bargaining agreement should preclude a subsequent suit in federal court. In both instances we rejected the claim.
Alexander v. Gardner-Denver Co., 415 U.S. 36 (1974), was an action under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Similarly, in Barrentine v. Arkansas-Best Freight System, Inc., 450 U.S. 728 (1981), Barrentine and a fellow employee had unsuccessfully submitted wage claims to arbitration. Nevertheless, we rejected the contention that the arbitration award precluded a subsequent suit based on the same underlying facts alleging a violation of the minimum wage provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Id., at 745-746.
Our rejection of a rule of preclusion in Barrentine and our rejection of a rule of deferral in Gardner-Denver were based in large part on our conclusion that Congress intended the statutes at issue in those cases to be judicially enforceable and that arbitration could not provide an adequate substitute for judicial proceedings in adjudicating claims under those statutes. 450 U. S., at 740-746; 415 U. S., at 56-60. These considerations similarly require that we find the doctrines of res judicata and collateral estoppel inapplicable in this § 1983 action.
First, an arbitrator's expertise "pertains primarily to the law of the shop, not the law of the land." Gardner-Denver, supra, at 57. An arbitrator may not, therefore, have the expertise required to resolve the complex legal questions that arise in § 1983 actions.
Second, because an arbitrator's authority derives solely from the contract, Barrentine, supra, at 744, an arbitrator may not have the authority to enforce § 1983. As we explained in Gardner-Denver: "The arbitrator . . . has no general authority to invoke public laws that conflict with the bargain between the parties . . . . If an arbitral decision is based `solely upon the arbitrator's view of the requirements
Third, when, as is usually the case,
Finally, arbitral factfinding is generally not equivalent to judicial factfinding. As we explained in Gardner-Denver, "[t]he record of the arbitration proceedings is not as complete; the usual rules of evidence do not apply; and rights and procedures common to civil trials, such as discovery, compulsory process, cross-examination, and testimony under oath, are often severely limited or unavailable." 415 U. S., at 57-58.
It is so ordered.
"Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress."
"Among the powers, rights, authority, duties and responsibilities which shall continue to be vested in the City of West Branch, but not intended as a wholly inclusive list of them, shall be: The right to . . . suspend or discharge employees for proper cause."
"The Acts of the legislature of any State, Territory, or Possession of the United States, or copies thereof, shall be authenticated by affixing the seal of such State, Territory or Possession thereto.
"The records and judicial proceedings of any court of any such State, Territory or Possession, or copies thereof, shall be proved or admitted in other courts within the United States and its Territories and Possessions by the attestation of the clerk and seal of the court annexed, if a seal exists, together with a certificate of a judge of the court that the said attestation is in proper form.
"Such Acts, records and judicial proceedings or copies thereof, so authenticated, shall have the same full faith and credit in every court within the United States and its Territories and Possessions as they have by law or usage in the courts of such State, Territory or Possession from which they are taken."
"We adopt no standards as to the weight to be accorded an arbitral decision, since this must be determined in the court's discretion with regard to the facts and circumstances of each case. Relevant factors include the existence of provisions in the collective-bargaining agreement that conform substantially with [the statute or constitution], the degree of procedural fairness in the arbitral forum, adequacy of the record with respect to the issue [in the judicial proceeding], and the special competence of particular arbitrators. Where an arbitral determination gives full consideration to an employee's [statutory or constitutional] rights, a court may properly accord it great weight. This is especially true where the issue is solely one of fact, specifically addressed by the parties and decided by the arbitrator on the basis of an adequate record. But courts should ever be mindful that Congress . . . thought it necessary to provide a judicial forum for the ultimate resolution of [these] claims. It is the duty of courts to assure the full availability of this forum." Gardner-Denver, 415 U. S., at 60, n. 21.
See also Barrentine, 450 U. S., at 743-744, n. 22.