• Part Number:
  • Part Number Title:
    Discrimination Against Employees Exercising Rights Under the Williams Steiger Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970
  • Standard Number:
  • Title:
    Arbitration or other agency proceedings.
  • GPO Source:

An employee who files a complaint under section 11(c) of the Act may also pursue remedies under grievance arbitration proceedings in collective bargaining agreements. In addition, the complainant may concurrently resort to other agencies for relief, such as the National Labor Relations Board. The Secretary's jurisdiction to entertain section 11(c) complaints, to investigate, and to determine whether discrimination has occurred, is independent of the jurisdiction of other agencies or bodies. The Secretary may file action in U.S. district court regardless of the pendency of other proceedings.


However, the Secretary also recognizes the national policy favoring voluntary resolution of disputes under procedures in collective bargaining agreements. See, e.g., Boy's Markets, Inc. v. Retail Clerks, 398 U.S. 235 (1970); Republic Steel Corp. v. Maddox, 379 U.S. 650 (1965); Carey v. Westinghouse Electric Co., 375 U.S. 261 (1964); Collier Insulated Wire, 192 NLRB No. 150 (1971). By the same token, due deference should be paid to the jurisdiction of other forums established to resolve disputes which may also be related to section 11(c) complaints.


Where a complainant is in fact pursuing remedies other than those provided by section 11(c), postponement of the Secretary's determination and deferral to the results of such proceedings may be in order. See, Burlington Truck Lines, Inc., v. U.S., 371 U.S. 156 (1962).


Postponement of determination. Postponement of determination would be justified where the rights asserted in other proceedings are substantially the same as rights under section 11(c) and those proceedings are not likely to violate the rights guaranteed by section 11(c). The factual issues in such proceedings must be substantially the same as those raised by section 11(c) complaint, and the forum hearing the matter must have the power to determine the ultimate issue of discrimination. See Rios v. Reynolds Metals Co., F.2d (5th Cir., 1972), 41 U.S.L.W. 1049 (Oct. 10, 1972); Newman v. Avco Corp., 451 F.2d 743 (6th Cir., 1971).


Deferral to outcome of other proceedings. A determination to defer to the outcome of other proceedings initiated by a complainant must necessarily be made on a case-to-case basis, after careful scrutiny of all available information. Before deferring to the results of other proceedings, it must be clear that those proceedings dealt adequately with all factual issues, that the proceedings were fair, regular, and free of procedural infirmities, and that the outcome of the proceedings was not repugnant to the purpose and policy of the Act. In this regard, if such other actions initiated by a complainant are dismissed without adjudicatory hearing thereof, such dismissal will not ordinarily be regarded as determinative of the section 11(c) complaint.