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Zeon Chemicals L.P. v. United Food and Commercial Workers

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

June 17, 2019

ZEON CHEMICALS, L.P. PLAINTIFF
v.
UNITED FOOD and COMMERCIAL WORKS, LOCAL 72D DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Greg N. Stivers, Chief Judge United States District Court

         This matter is before the Court on the parties' dueling motions for summary judgment. (DN 17, 18). The motions are ripe for decision. For the reasons provided below Plaintiff's motion is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case arises under Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (“LMRA”) concerning a dispute between Plaintiff Zeon Chemicals, L.P. (“the Company”) and Defendant United Food and Commercial Works, Local 72D (“the Union”) over a decision rendered by Arbitrator Stephen Hayford (“the Arbitrator”). (Compl. ¶ 1, DN 1). The Arbitrator concluded that the Company did not terminate its employee, Allen Jenkins (“Jenkins”), for just cause as required under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) between the Company and the Union. (Compl. Ex. B, at 24, DN 1-3 [hereinafter Arbitration Award]).

         In late March or early April 2017, Jenkins was visiting his family in Florida and was involved in an altercation with his parents' neighbor. (Arbitration Hr'g Tr. 153:4-8, DN 18-2 [hereinafter Tr.]). After the neighbor pressed charges, Jenkins was arrested and pleaded guilty to a charge of felony assault. (Tr. 155:25-156:1, 167:13-23). Jenkins was given a couple weeks to get his affairs in order before reporting for his thirty-day jail sentence. (Tr. 167:13-23). At that time, Jenkins knew “it was going to be a risk” he would lose his job as a result of this impending thirty-day sentence in light of the Company's Attendance Control Policy (“ACP”) articulated in the CBA. (Tr. 168:11-17).

         The ACP provides that the Company “will follow a point system to combine the tracking of absences, tardiness and the leaving of shifts early.” (Compl. Ex. A, at 51, DN 1-2 [hereinafter CBA]). The ACP assigns points for attendance issues which accumulate on a rolling twelve-month calendar. (CBA 51-53). An “absence” is defined as a failure to report to work for a scheduled shift, with exceptions for vacation, funeral leave, and FMLA leave, among others. (CBA 51). Each absence is counted as an individual occurrence, even if consecutive, and each is charged with two points. (CBA 51-52).

         The ACP features a four-step procedure directing the Company's responses in the event an employee accrues certain No. of points in a given year:

STEP ONE
The accrual of 6 points in any twelve-month period will be the basis for a coaching discussion (verbal warning) between the employee and his/her direct supervisor. The purpose of the coaching session is to make the employee aware that he/she has been absent or tardy frequently enough to draw attention to be certain that the employee understands this policy and the consequences of the violation. The coaching session will be documented to the employee's personnel file.
STEP TWO
The accrual of 8 points in the same twelve-month period will trigger a written warning putting the employee on formal notice of violations as mentioned above.
STEP THREE
The accrual of 10 points in the same twelve-month period is cause for a final written warning with a one-day suspension (without pay). This is considered the final warning step in the disciplinary process regarding attendance and punctuality.
The Company, may, at its discretion, impose a 30 day suspension as a final step in the disciplinary process for employees with 20 or more years of service in an effort to impress upon the employee the gravity and severity of the situation.
STEP FOUR (FINAL)
The accrual of 12 points in the same twelve-month period is cause for ...

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