Print this Page
Case Basics
Docket No. 
Universal Maritime Service Corp.
(Argued the cause for the respondents)
(Argued the cause for the petitioner)
(On behalf of the United States, as amicus curiae, supporting the petitioner)
Facts of the Case 

Ceasar Wright worked as a longshoreman. He belonged to the International Longshoremen's Association, AFL-CIO, a union that supplied workers to the South Carolina Stevedores Association (SCSA). In 1992, Wright sustained a worked-related; he sought compensation for permanent disability under federal law. In 1995, Wright returned to Longshoremen's Association to be referred for work. When the stevedoring companies, to which he was referred, discovered that he had previously settled a claim for permanent disability, they informed the union they would not accept Wright for employment. Under the collective- bargaining agreement (CBA) between the Longshoremen's Association and the SCSA, Wright was not qualified to perform longshore work if he was permanently disabled. Wright chose not to file a grievance under the CBA, but instead to file a claim under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). He alleged the stevedoring companies and the SCSA had discriminated against him by refusing him work. The District Court dismissed the case because Wright had failed to pursue the grievance procedure -- arbitration -- provided by the CBA. The Court of Appeals affirmed.


May employees sue over alleged discrimination under the ADA when their union contract requires grievances to be handled through arbitration?

Decision: 9 votes for Wright, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Yes. In a unanimous decision, announced by Justice Antonin Scalia, the Court ruled that the CBA's arbitration clause did not require Wright to use the arbitration procedure for the alleged violation of the ADA. In his opinion, Scalia wrote that the CBA did not contain a waiver of the employee's right to a judicial forum for federal claims of employment discrimination.

Cite this Page
WRIGHT v. UNIVERSAL MARITIME SERVICE CORP.. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 26 August 2015. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1998/1998_97_889>.
WRIGHT v. UNIVERSAL MARITIME SERVICE CORP., The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1998/1998_97_889 (last visited August 26, 2015).
"WRIGHT v. UNIVERSAL MARITIME SERVICE CORP.," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 26, 2015, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1998/1998_97_889.