WRIGHT v. UNIVERSAL MARITIME SERVICE CORP.

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
97-889
Petitioner 
Wright
Respondent 
Universal Maritime Service Corp.
Opinion 
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the respondents)
(Argued the cause for the petitioner)
(On behalf of the United States, as amicus curiae, supporting the petitioner)
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Term:
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.

Question 

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

Conclusion 
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.

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WRIGHT v. UNIVERSAL MARITIME SERVICE CORP.. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 26 November 2014. <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 November 26, 2014).
"WRIGHT v. UNIVERSAL MARITIME SERVICE CORP.," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed November 26, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1998/1998_97_889.