Livadas v. Bradshaw, 512 U.S. 107, 7 (1994)

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Cite as: 512 U. S. 107 (1994)

Opinion of the Court

collective bargaining agreement and 'apply' that agreement. The courts have pointed out that such an application is exactly what the provisions of Labor Code 229 prohibit." 6 App. 16.

The letter made no reference to any particular aspect of Livadas's claim making it unfit for enforcement, and the Commissioner's position is fairly taken to be that DLSE enforcement of 203 claims, as well as other claims for which relief is pegged to an employee's wage rate, is generally unavailable to employees covered by collective-bargaining agreements.7

Livadas brought this action in the United States District Court under Rev. Stat. 1979, 42 U. S. C. 1983, alleging that the nonenforcement policy, reflecting the Commissioner's reading of Labor Code 229, was pre-empted as conflicting with Livadas's rights under 7 of the NLRA, 49 Stat. 452, as amended, 29 U. S. C. 157, because the policy placed a

6 Labor Code 229 provides: "Actions to enforce the provisions of this article [Labor Code 200-243] for the collection of due and unpaid wages claimed by an individual may be maintained without regard to the existence of any private agreement to arbitrate. This section shall not apply to claims involving any dispute concerning the interpretation or application of any collective bargaining agreement containing such an arbitration agreement." Cf. Perry v. Thomas, 482 U. S. 483 (1987) ( 229 bar to waiver defeated by Federal Arbitration Act policy).

All concerned identify the allusion to what "courts" have said to be a reference to a 1975 decision of the California Court of Appeal, Plumbing, Heating and Piping Employers Council v. Howard, 53 Cal. App. 3d 828, 126 Cal. Rptr. 406, where the Commissioner was held barred by the statute from enforcing an "unpaid" wage claim arising from an employee's assertion that he was entitled, under collective-bargaining agreements then in force, to receive a foreman's rate of pay and not a journeyman's.

7 The Commissioner notes that a small minority of collective-bargaining agreements lack provisions either setting wage rates or mandating arbitration (and therefore might potentially be enforced under the challenged policy). But see n. 13, infra; Lingle v. Norge Div. of Magic Chef, Inc., 486 U. S. 399, 411, n. 11 (1988) (noting that 99% of sampled collective-bargaining agreements include arbitration clauses).


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