Livadas v. Bradshaw, 512 U.S. 107, 4 (1994)

Page:   Index   Previous  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  Next



Opinion of the Court

Justice Souter delivered the opinion of the Court.

California law requires employers to pay all wages due immediately upon an employee's discharge, imposes a penalty for refusal to pay promptly, precludes any private contractual waiver of these minimum labor standards, and places responsibility for enforcing these provisions on the State Commissioner of Labor (Commissioner or Labor Commissioner), ostensibly for the benefit of all employees. Respondent, the Labor Commissioner,1 has construed a further provision of state law as barring enforcement of these wage and penalty claims on behalf of individuals like petitioner, whose terms and conditions of employment are governed by a collective-bargaining agreement containing an arbitration clause. We hold that federal law pre-empts this policy, as abridging the exercise of such employees' rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA or Act), 29 U. S. C. 151 et seq., and that redress for this unlawful refusal to enforce may be had under 42 U. S. C. 1983.


Until her discharge on January 2, 1990, petitioner Karen Livadas worked as a grocery clerk in a Vallejo, California, Safeway supermarket. The terms and conditions of her employment were subject to a collective-bargaining agreement between Safeway and Livadas's union, Local 373 of the United Food and Commercial Workers, AFL-CIO. Unexceptionally, the agreement provided that "[d]isputes as to the interpretation or application of the agreement," including grievances arising from allegedly unjust discharge or suspension, would be subject to binding arbitration. See Food

R. Strauss, Stephen A. Bokat, Mona C. Zeiberg, Jan Amundson, and Quentin Riegel; and for the Employers Group et al. by Steven G. Drapkin.

1 Respondent Bradshaw has succeeded Lloyd Aubry, the original named defendant in this action, as Labor Commissioner and has been substituted as a party before this Court. See this Court's Rule 35.3.

Page:   Index   Previous  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  Next

Last modified: October 4, 2007