Thovson v. Behavioral Health Resources

2012 WL 4514431 (2012)

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Thovson v. Behavioral Health Resources

United States District Court for the Western District of Washington
2012 WL 4514431 (2012)

Facts

April Thovson (plaintiff) was an employee for Behavioral Health Resources (Behavioral) (defendant). Thovson was also subject to a collective-bargaining agreement (CBA) between Behavioral and the Service Employees International Union Healthcare (union). Although the first few years of Thovson’s employment went well, Behavioral eventually terminated Thovson. Thovson responded by filing a grievance under the CBA. That grievance led to arbitration, which Thovson won. The arbitrator concluded that the allegations against Thovson were not accurate and ordered that she be reinstated and supported upon her return to work. But when Thovson returned, colleagues harassed her. A supervisor also told Thovson that Thovson was failing to perform her job requirements. Eventually, Thovson received a written warning. The union grieved the written warning on the grounds that Behavioral was retaliating for Thovson’s earlier arbitration proceedings. Thovson’s work environment became increasingly negative, and the parties eventually agreed to mediate the union’s retaliation grievance. The mediation was unsuccessful, and instead of moving forward to arbitration, Thovson resigned. The resignation ended the dispute-resolution process. Thovson then sued Behavioral for violating the CBA in violation of § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA). Behavioral moved to dismiss, arguing that Thovson failed to exhaust the grievance procedures under the CBA. Thovson responded that the grievance procedure would be futile because Behavioral had already failed to follow the previous arbitration award.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Leighton, J.)

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