JUSTICE BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court.
We are called upon in this case to decide what statute of limitations governs a claim by a union member under § 101 (a)(2) of Title I of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA), Pub. L. 86-257, 73 Stat. 522, 29 U. S. C. § 411(a)(2), alleging that the union violated its member's right to free speech as to union matters.
Petitioner Reed, the Secretary and Treasurer of Local 1715 (Local) of respondent United Transportation Union (Union), received reimbursement from the Local for "time
Respondents moved for summary judgment, arguing that petitioner had filed his suit out of time. Respondents maintained that on the reasoning of DelCostello v. Teamsters, 462 U.S. 151 (1983), petitioner's § 101 claim should be governed by the statute of limitations that applies to the filing of charges with the National Labor Relations Board alleging unfair labor practices defined in § 8 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), 29 U. S. C. § 158. Section 10(b) of the NLRA, 29 U. S. C. § 160(b), provides that such charges must be filed within six months.
The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed, construing DelCostello to require that petitioner's § 101(a)(2) claim be governed by NLRA § 10(b). 828 F.2d 1066 (1987). We granted certiorari, 485 U.S. 933 (1988), to settle a conflict among Courts of Appeals as to the statute of limitations applicable to § 101(a)(2) actions.
Congress not infrequently fails to supply an express statute of limitations when it creates a federal cause of action. When that occurs, "[w]e have generally concluded that Congress intended that the courts apply the most closely analogous statute of limitations under state law." DelCostello, supra, at 158. See, e. g., Agency Holding Corp. v. Malley-Duff & Associates, Inc., 483 U.S. 143, 147 (1987) (noting that the Rules of Decision Act usually requires that a state statute be borrowed, and also that "[g]iven our longstanding practice of borrowing state law, and the congressional awareness
"State legislatures do not devise their limitations periods with national interests in mind," however, "and it is the duty of the federal courts to assure that the importation of state law will not frustrate or interfere with the implementation of national policies." Occidental Life Ins. Co. of California v. EEOC, 432 U.S. 355, 367 (1977). Thus, on the assumption that Congress would not choose "to adopt state [limitations] rules at odds with the purpose or operation of federal substantive law," DelCostello, supra, at 161, we have recognized a closely circumscribed exception to the general rule that statutes of limitation are to be borrowed from state law. We decline to borrow a state statute of limitations only "when a rule from elsewhere in federal law clearly provides a closer analogy than available state statutes, and when the federal policies at stake and the practicalities of litigation make that rule a significantly more appropriate vehicle for interstitial lawmaking." DelCostello, supra, at 172. See Agency Holding Corp., supra (adopting federal statute of limitations for civil RICO claims); Occidental Life Ins. Co., supra (federal limitations period applied to EEOC enforcement actions); McAllister v. Magnolia Petroleum Co., 357 U.S. 221 (1958) (federal limitations period applied to unseaworthiness actions); Holmberg v. Armbrecht, supra (refusing to apply state statute to action to enforce federally created equitable right). This is a narrow exception to the general rule. As we made clear in DelCostello, "in labor law or elsewhere," application of a federal statute will be unusual, and "resort to state law remains the norm for borrowing of limitations periods." 462 U. S., at 171. Respondents urge in this case that petitioner's § 101(a)(2) claim that he was penalized for exercising his right as a union member to speak freely as to union matters falls within the narrow exception requiring
We have upon previous occasions considered the history of Title I of the LMRDA, and have concluded that "Congress modeled Title I after the Bill of Rights, and that the legislators intended § 101(a)(2) to restate a principal First Amendment value — the right to speak one's mind without fear of reprisal." Steelworkers v. Sadlowski, 457 U.S. 102, 111 (1982). Indeed, the amendments that eventually were enacted as Title I were introduced under the heading of "Bill of Rights of Members of Labor Organizations." See Finnegan v. Leu, 456 U.S. 431, 435 (1982). Congress considered the protection afforded by Title I to free speech and assembly in the union context necessary to bring an end to abuses by union leadership that had curtailed union democracy. It "adopted the freedom of speech and assembly provision in order to promote union democracy . . . [and] recognized that democracy would be assured only if union members are free to discuss union policies and criticize the leadership without fear of reprisal." Sadlowski, supra, at 112. See also Finnegan, supra, at 436 (Title I was "necessary to further the [LMRDA's] primary objective of ensuring that unions would be democratically governed and responsive to the will of their memberships"). Thus the core purpose of § 101(a)(2) is to protect free speech and assembly rights because these are considered "vital to the independence of the membership and the effective and fair operation of the union as the representative." Hall v. Cole, 412 U.S. 1, 8 (1973).
As a preliminary matter, consideration of this core purpose suggests that "all claims arising out of [§ 101(a)(2)] `should be characterized in the same way.' " Agency Holding Corp., supra, at 147, quoting Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 268 (1985). Though § 101(a)(2) creates personal rights, a union
Because § 101(a)(2) protects rights of free speech and assembly, and was patterned after the First Amendment, it is readily analogized for the purpose of borrowing a statute of limitations to state personal injury actions. We find it unnecessary to detail here the elements of this analogy. We have previously considered possible analogies between federal civil rights actions under 42 U. S. C. § 1983 (which lacks an express statute of limitations) and various state-law claims, and have held that § 1983 actions are governed by state general or residual personal injury statutes of limitations. Owens v. Okure, ante, p. 235; Wilson v. Garcia, supra. See also Goodman v. Lukens Steel Co., 482 U.S. 656 (1987) (applying state personal injury statute to federal civil rights action against a private party brought under 42
Respondents argue that the same federal labor policies that led us in DelCostello to borrow the NLRA § 10(b) statute of limitations for hybrid § 301/fair representation claims likewise require that we borrow § 10(b) for LMRDA § 101 (a)(2) actions. This argument lacks merit. It fails to take seriously our admonition that analogous state statutes of limitations are to be used unless they frustrate or significantly interfere with federal policies. More importantly, it entirely ignores the core federal interest furthered by § 101(a)(2) — the
We declined in DelCostello to apply state statutes of limitations for vacation of an arbitration award or for legal malpractice to an employee's hybrid § 301/fair representation action. Such hybrid suits formally comprise two causes of action. First, the employee alleges that the employer violated § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 1947 (LMRA), 61 Stat. 156, 29 U. S. C. § 185, by breaching the collective-bargaining agreement. Second, the employee claims that the union breached its duty of fair representation, which this Court has implied from the scheme of the NLRA, by mishandling the ensuing grievance-and-arbitration proceedings. See DelCostello, supra, at 164, and n. 14. We held in DelCostello that, having regard to "the policies of federal labor law and the practicalities of hybrid § 301/fair representation litigation," 462 U. S., at 165, § 10(b) of the NLRA, with its 6-month limitations period for unfair labor practice charges, provided the closest analogy for hybrid § 301/fair representation actions.
Insofar as interests in stable bargaining relationships and in private dispute resolution under collective-bargaining agreements are implicated by § 101(a)(2) claims, however, the relationship will generally be tangential and remote — as in the present case, which involves an internal union dispute not directly related in any way to collective bargaining or dispute settlement under a collective-bargaining agreement. To be sure, the Court of Appeals stated:
See also Local Union 1397, supra, at 184 ("[D]issension within a union naturally affects that union's activities and effectiveness
See also Davis v. United Automobile, Aerospace and Agriculture Implement Workers of America, 765 F.2d 1510, 1514 (CA11 1985). Thus the federal interests in collective bargaining and in the resolution of disputes under collective-bargaining agreements, which require application of a 6-month statute of limitations to unfair labor practice charges and hybrid § 301/fair representation claims, simply are not directly involved in § 101(a)(2) actions.
The 6-month § 10(b) statute of limitations was crafted to accommodate federal interests in stable bargaining relationships and in private dispute resolution that are not squarely implicated in LMRDA § 101(a)(2) actions; and it was not adopted with the distinct federal interest in the free speech of union members in mind. Hence it is not the case that "the federal policies at stake" in § 101(a)(2) actions make the § 10(b) statute of limitations "a significantly more appropriate vehicle for interstitial lawmaking" than the analogous state statute of limitations that our established borrowing rule favors.
Because § 101(a)(2) of the LMRDA is modeled on the First Amendment to our Constitution, there is an analogy between § 101(a)(2) claims, § 1983 claims, and state personal injury actions. Indeed, we have already held that 42 U. S. C. § 1983, which like § 101(a)(2) protects the exercise of First Amendment rights, is governed by state general or residual personal injury statutes of limitations. Owens v. Okure, ante, p. 235. The well-established rule that statutes of limitations for federal causes of action not supplied with their own limitations periods will be borrowed from state law thus requires that state general or residual personal injury statutes be applied to § 101(a)(2) suits. None of the exceptions to that rule apply, for § 10(b) of the NLRA does not supply a more analogous statute; its 6-month limitations period is not better suited to the practicalities of § 101(a)(2) litigation; and it was not designed to accommodate federal policies similar to those implicated in § 101(a)(2) actions. The judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
It is so ordered.
JUSTICE SCALIA, concurring in the judgment.
I remain of the view that the Court should apply the appropriate state statute of limitations (if any at all) when a federal statute lacks an explicit limitations period. See Agency Holding Corp. v. Malley-Duff & Associates, Inc., 483 U.S. 143, 170 (1987) (SCALIA, J., concurring in judgment). Accordingly, I concur in the judgment.
JUSTICE WHITE, dissenting.
I am persuaded that the 6-month statute of limitations prescribed by § 10(b) of the National Labor Relations Act, 29
Undeniably, Congress made it an unfair labor practice for a union to restrain or coerce employees in the exercise of their organizational and collective-bargaining rights, 29 U. S. C. § 158(a), thus seeking to protect the same interests furthered by Title I, yet insisting that such charges be aired and decided in prompt fashion. Furthermore, there can be no doubt that a great many alleged violations of Title I could be filed with the Board as unfair labor practices subject to the 6-month limitations period of § 10(b). I find nothing of real substance in the Court's opinion to justify borrowing the much longer state statute that was not designed with the interests of the federal labor laws in mind.
Respectfully, I dissent.
David Silberman and Laurence Gold filed a brief for the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations as amicus curiae urging affirmance.
"FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND ASSEMBLY.
"Every member of any labor organization shall have the right to meet and assemble freely with other members; and to express any views, arguments, or opinions; and to express at meetings of the labor organization his views, upon candidates in an election of the labor organization or upon any business properly before the meeting, subject to the organization's established and reasonable rules pertaining to the conduct of meetings: Provided, That nothing herein shall be construed to impair the right of a labor organization to adopt and enforce reasonable rules as to the responsibility of every member toward the organization as an institution and to his refraining from conduct that would interfere with its performance of its legal or contractual obligations." 73 Stat. 522.
This section is enforceable by private right of action. 29 U. S. C. § 412.
An additional factor considered important to our analysis in DelCostello but absent here is that a hybrid § 301/fair representation action yokes together interdependent claims that could only very impractically be treated as governed by different statutes of limitations. 462 U. S., at 164-165. Cf. McAllister v. Magnolia Petroleum Co., 357 U.S. 221 (1958) (applying a federal statute to seaworthiness actions under general admiralty law that are almost invariably brought in tandem with federal Jones Act claims). Departure from the normal practice of borrowing state statutes of limitations is more likely to be necessary where distinct actions are combined, making the possibility of finding a single analogous state statute more remote. See DelCostello, supra, at 166-167.