In Illinois an employee who is discharged for filing a worker's compensation claim may recover compensatory and punitive damages from her employer. The question presented in this case is whether an employee covered by a collective-bargaining agreement that provides her with a contractual remedy for discharge without just cause may enforce her state-law remedy for retaliatory discharge. The Court of Appeals held that the application of the state tort remedy was pre-empted by § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 1947, 61 Stat. 156, 29 U. S. C. § 185. 823 F.2d 1031 (CA7 1987) (en banc). We disagree.
Petitioner was employed in respondent's manufacturing plant in Herrin, Illinois. On December 5, 1984, she notified respondent that she had been injured in the course of her employment and requested compensation for her medical expenses pursuant to the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act. On December 11, 1984, respondent discharged her for filing a "false worker's compensation claim." Id., at 1033.
The union representing petitioner promptly filed a grievance pursuant to the collective-bargaining agreement that covered all production and maintenance employees in the Herrin plant. The agreement protected those employees, including petitioner, from discharge except for "proper" or "just" cause, App. 13-14, and established a procedure for the arbitration of grievances, id., at 10-11. The term grievance
Meanwhile, on July 9, 1985, petitioner commenced this action against respondent by filing a complaint in the Illinois Circuit Court for Williamson County, alleging that she had been discharged for exercising her rights under the Illinois workers' compensation laws. App. 2-4; see Kelsay v. Motorola, Inc., 74 Ill.2d 172, 384 N.E.2d 353 (1978); Midgett v. Sackett-Chicago, Inc., 105 Ill.2d 143, 473 N.E.2d 1280 (1984); see also Ill. Rev. Stat., ch. 48, ¶ 138.4(h) (1987). Respondent removed the case to the Federal District Court on the basis of diversity of citizenship, and then filed a motion praying that the court either dismiss the case on pre-emption grounds or stay further proceedings pending the completion of the arbitration. Record, Doc. No. 7. Relying on our decision in Allis-Chalmers Corp. v. Lueck, 471 U.S. 202 (1985), the District Court dismissed the complaint. It concluded that the "claim for retaliatory discharge is `inextricably intertwined' with the collective bargaining provision prohibiting wrongful discharge or discharge without just cause" and that allowing the state-law action to proceed would undermine the arbitration procedures set forth in the parties' contract. 618 F.Supp. 1448, 1449 (SD Ill. 1985).
The Court of Appeals agreed that the state-law claim was pre-empted by § 301. In an en banc opinion, over the dissent of two judges, it rejected petitioner's argument that the tort action was not "inextricably intertwined" with the collective-bargaining agreement because the disposition of a retaliatory discharge claim in Illinois does not depend upon an interpretation of the agreement; on the contrary, the court concluded that "the same analysis of the facts" was implicated under both procedures. 823 F. 2d, at 1046. It took note of, and
Section 301(a) of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, 61 Stat. 156, 29 U. S. C. § 185(a), provides.
In Textile Workers v. Lincoln Mills, 353 U.S. 448 (1957), we held that § 301 not only provides federal-court jurisdiction over controversies involving collective-bargaining agreements, but also "authorizes federal courts to fashion a body of federal law for the enforcement of these collective bargaining agreements." Id., at 451.
In Teamsters v. Lucas Flour Co., 369 U.S. 95 (1962), we were confronted with a straightforward question of contract interpretation: whether a collective-bargaining agreement implicitly prohibited a strike that had been called by the union. The Washington Supreme Court had answered that question by applying state-law rules of contract interpretation.
Thus, Lueck faithfully applied the principle of § 301 preemption developed in Lucas Flour:
Illinois courts have recognized the tort of retaliatory discharge for filing a worker's compensation claim, Kelsay v. Motorola, Inc., 74 Ill.2d 172, 384 N.E.2d 353 (1978),
The result we reach today is consistent both with the policy of fostering uniform, certain adjudication of disputes over the
First, as we explained in Lueck, "[t]he need to preserve the effectiveness of arbitration was one of the central reasons that underlay the Court's holding in Lucas Flour." 471 U. S., at 219. "A rule that permitted an individual to sidestep available grievance procedures would cause arbitration to lose most of its effectiveness, . . . as well as eviscerate a central tenet of federal labor contract law under § 301 that it is the arbitrator, not the court, who has the responsibility to interpret the labor contract in the first instance." Id., at 220. See Paperworkers v. Misco, Inc., 484 U.S. 29 (1987); Steelworkers v. Enterprise Wheel & Car Corp., 363 U.S. 593 (1960). Today's decision should make clear that interpretation of collective-bargaining agreements remains firmly in the arbitral realm;
Second, there is nothing novel about recognizing that substantive rights in the labor relations context can exist without interpreting collective-bargaining agreements.
Although our comments in Buell, construing the scope of Railway Labor Act pre-emption, referred to independent federal statutory rights, we subsequently rejected a claim that federal labor law pre-empted a state statute providing a one-time severance benefit to employees in the event of a plant closing. In Fort Halifax Packing Co. v. Coyne, 482 U.S. 1, 21 (1987), we emphasized that "pre-emption should not be lightly inferred in this area, since the establishment of labor standards falls within the traditional police power of the State." We specifically held that the Maine law in question was not pre-empted by the NLRA, "since its establishment of a minimum labor standard does not impermissibly intrude upon the collective-bargaining process." Id., at 23.
The Court of Appeals "recognize[d] that § 301 does not pre-empt state anti-discrimination laws, even though a suit under these laws, like a suit alleging retaliatory discharge, requires a state court to determine whether just cause existed to justify the discharge." 823 F. 2d, at 1046, n. 17. The court distinguished those laws because Congress has affirmatively endorsed state antidiscrimination remedies in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 78 Stat. 241, see 42 U. S. C. §§ 2000e-5(c) and 2000e-7, whereas there is no such explicit endorsement of state workers' compensation laws. As should be plain from our discussion in Part III, supra, this distinction is unnecessary for determining whether § 301 pre-empts the state law in question. The operation of the antidiscrimination laws does, however, illustrate the relevant point for § 301 pre-emption analysis that the mere fact that a broad contractual protection against discriminatory — or retaliatory
In sum, we hold that an application of state law is preempted by § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 only if such application requires the interpretation of a collective-bargaining agreement.
The judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed.
It is so ordered.
Briefs of amici curiae urging affirmance were filed for the Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America by Peter G. Nash, Dixie L. Atwater, and Stephen A. Bokat; and for the Equal Employment Advisory Council by Robert E. Williams and Douglas S. McDowell.
"It was apparently the theory of the Washington court that, although Textile Workers Union v. Lincoln Mills, 353 U.S. 448, requires the federal courts to fashion, from the policy of our national labor laws, a body of federal law for the enforcement of collective-bargaining agreements, nonetheless, the courts of the States remain free to apply individualized local rules when called upon to enforce such agreements. This view cannot be accepted. The dimensions of § 301 require the conclusion that substantive principles of federal labor law must be paramount in the area covered by the statute. Comprehensiveness is inherent in the process by which the law is to be formulated under the mandate of Lincoln Mills, requiring issues raised in suits of a kind covered by § 301 to be decided according to the precepts of federal labor policy.
"More important, the subject matter of § 301(a) `is peculiarly one that calls for uniform law.' . . . The possibility that individual contract terms might have different meanings under state and federal law would inevitably exert a disruptive influence upon both the negotiation and administration of collective agreements. Because neither party could be certain of the rights which it had obtained or conceded, the process of negotiating an agreement would be made immeasurably more difficult by the necessity of trying to formulate contract provisions in such a way as to contain the same meaning under two or more systems of law which might someday be invoked in enforcing the contract. Once the collective bargain was made, the possibility of conflicting substantive interpretation under competing legal systems would tend to stimulate and prolong disputes as to its interpretation. Indeed, the existence of possibly conflicting legal concepts might substantially impede the parties' willingness to agree to contract terms providing for final arbitral or judicial resolution of disputes.
"The importance of the area which would be affected by separate systems of substantive law makes the need for a single body of federal law particularly compelling. The ordering and adjusting of competing interests through a process of free and voluntary collective bargaining is the keystone of the federal scheme to promote industrial peace. State law which frustrates the effort of Congress to stimulate the smooth functioning of that process thus strikes at the very core of federal labor policy. With due regard to the many factors which bear upon competing state and federal interests in this area, . . . we cannot but conclude that in enacting § 301 Congress intended doctrines of federal labor law uniformly to prevail over inconsistent local rules." 369 U. S., at 103-104 (citations omitted; footnote omitted).
"It shall be unlawful for any employer, insurance company or service or adjustment company to interfere with, restrain or coerce an employee in any manner whatsoever in the exercise of the rights or remedies granted to him or her by this Act or to discriminate, attempt to discriminate, or threaten to discriminate against an employee in any way because of the exercise of his or her rights granted to him or her by this Act.
"It shall be unlawful for any employer, individually or through any insurance company or service or adjustment company, to discharge or threaten to discharge, or to refuse to rehire or recall to active service in a suitable capacity an employee because of the exercise of his or her rights or remedies granted him or her by this Act." Ill. Rev. Stat., ch. 48, ¶ 138.4(h) (1987).
Petitioner points to the fact that the Illinois right to be free from retaliatory discharge is nonnegotiable and applies to unionized and nonunionized workers alike. While it may be true that most state laws that are not pre-empted by § 301 will grant nonnegotiable rights that are shared by all state workers, we note that neither condition ensures nonpre-emption. It is conceivable that a State could create a remedy that, although nonnegotiable, nonetheless turned on the interpretation of a collective-bargaining agreement for its application. Such a remedy would be pre-empted by § 301. Similarly, if a law applied to all state workers but required, at least in certain instances, collective-bargaining agreement interpretation, the application of the law in those instances would be pre-empted. Conversely, a law could cover only unionized workers but remain unpre-empted if no collective-bargaining agreement interpretation was needed to resolve claims brought thereunder.
"A second pre-emption doctrine protects against state interference with policies implicated by the structure of the [NLRA] itself, by pre-empting state law and state causes of action concerning conduct that Congress intended to be unregulated." Metropolitan Life Ins. Co. v. Massachusetts, 471 U.S. 724, 749 (1985). This doctrine "was designed, at least initially, to govern pre-emption questions that arose concerning activity that was neither arguably protected against employer interference by §§ 7 and 8(a)(1) of the NLRA, nor arguably prohibited as an unfair labor practice by § 8(b) of that Act. . . . Such action falls outside the reach of Garmon pre-emption." Ibid. We referred to this second pre-emption doctrine in Metropolitan Life as "Machinists pre-emption," after Machinists v. Wisconsin Employment Relations Comm'n, 427 U.S. 132 (1976), in which we had "ruled that a State may not penalize a concerted refusal to work overtime that was neither prohibited nor protected under the NLRA." 471 U. S., at 750.
"Caterpillar asserts that respondents' state-law contract claims are in reality completely pre-empted § 301 claims, which therefore arise under federal law. We disagree. Section 301 governs claims founded directly on rights created by collective-bargaining agreements, and also claims `substantially dependent on analysis of a collective-bargaining agreement.' Electrical Workers v. Hechler, 481 U.S. 851, 859, n. 3 (1987); see also Allis-Chalmers Corp. v. Lueck, 471 U. S., at 220. Respondents allege that Caterpillar has entered into and breached individual employment contracts with them. Section 301 says nothing about the content or validity of individual employment contracts. It is true that respondents, bargaining unit members at the time of the plant closing, possessed substantial rights under the collective agreement, and could have brought suit under § 301. As masters of the complaint, however, they chose not to do so.
"Moreover, contrary to Caterpillar's assertion, . . . respondents' complaint is not substantially dependent upon interpretation of the collective-bargaining agreement. It does not rely upon the collective agreement indirectly, nor does it address the relationship between the individual contracts and the collective agreement. As the Court has stated, `it would be inconsistent with congressional intent under [§ 301] to pre-empt state rules that proscribe conduct, or establish rights and obligations, independent of a labor contract.' Allis-Chalmers Corp., supra, at 212."