Labor and Employment Team Scores Win in 5th Circuit for APM Terminals

December 17, 2014

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit affirmed a summary judgment obtained by McGuireWoods on behalf of APM Terminals (APMT) in an Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) lawsuit. Savant v. APM Terminals, Case No. 13-20572 (Dec. 5, 2014).

Alleging that a yard tractor driver recertification test he’d failed was used to eliminate older drivers, Floyd Savant sued port terminal operator APMT in the Southern District of Texas. APMT moved for summary judgment, asserting that Savant lacked standing to pursue his ADEA claim because he failed to exhaust the grievance and arbitration remedies under his union’s collective-bargaining agreement (CBA). That CBA, APMT argued, when read in conjunction with a separate unsigned memorandum of understanding (MOU), required that such claims be pursued solely through the CBA’s grievance and arbitration process. The district court agreed with APMT and granted summary judgment.

In affirming the district court’s ruling, the 5th Circuit rejected Savant’s unsupported claim that the union members had “rejected” the unsigned MOU. Instead, the court cited evidence that the unsigned MOU was intended to apply to all statutory claims by union members, and pointed to grievance reports reflecting that the union was using the CBA’s grievance and arbitration process to address such claims. The 5th Circuit further noted that Savant admitted the MOU applied to his employment and, in his union membership application, he approved any agreement entered into by the union on his behalf. Like in the underlying district court decision and because the 5th Circuit affirmed on standing grounds, the proceeding did not address the age discrimination claim.

APMT was represented at trial and on appeal by McGuireWoods labor and employment lawyers Matthew Kane and Sabrina Beldner, and senior paralegal Rachel Evey.