The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Patterson Harkavy’s client in Int’l Bhd. of Elec. Workers, AFL-CIO, Local Union No. 289 v. Verizon S., Inc., No. 12-2013, 2013 WL 3770706 (4th Cir. July 19, 2013).
The case arose from a dispute surrounding Verizon’s termination of employee Brian Pollard. Verizon sought to avoid arbitration of the controversy, claiming that Mr. Pollard was only a probationary employee without the right to arbitrate his discharge under the Union’s collective bargaining agreement. Representing the Union in the Middle District of North Carolina, attorneys Narendra Ghosh and Mike Okun filed a motion to compel arbitration. In January of 2012, Magistrate Judge Trevor Sharp recommended that the Union’s motion to compel arbitration be granted. Following the Recommendation’s adoption by Judge William Osteen, Jr., Verizon South appealed to the Fourth Circuit.
In an opinion issued last week, the Fourth Circuit unanimously affirmed the District Court’s ruling, finding that both the Collective Bargaining Agreement and a separate agreement were “at minimum, reasonably susceptible to the interpretation that the Union advances.” Since doubts as to whether an arbitration clause covers a given dispute are resolved in favor of coverage, the Fourth Circuit found it appropriate to compel arbitration of the dispute.
Congratulations to Mike and Narendra on the win!