Livadas v. Bradshaw, 512 U.S. 107, 9 (1994)

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

Opinion of the Court

ments. The District Court explained that resolution of the claim under 203 "requires reference only to a calendar, not to the [collective-bargaining agreement]," 749 F. Supp., at 1536, and granted petitioner all requested relief. Id., at 1540.9

A divided panel of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed. 987 F. 2d 552 (1993). The court acknowledged that federal law gives Livadas a right to engage in collective bargaining and that 1983 would supply a remedy for official deprivation of that right, but the panel majority concluded that no federal right had been infringed. The court reasoned that the policy was based on the Commissioner's reading of Labor Code 229, whose function of keeping state tribunals from adjudicating claims in a way that would interfere with the operation of federal labor policy is, by definition, consistent with the dictates of federal law. Noting that Livadas did not assert pre-emption of 229 itself or object to the California courts' interpretation of it, the majority concluded that her case reduced to an assertion that the Commissioner had misinterpreted state law, an error for which relief could be obtained in California courts.

Livadas could not claim to be "penalized," the Appeals panel then observed, for she stood "in the same position as every other employee in the state when it comes to seeking the Commissioner's enforcement. Every employee . . . is subject to an eligibility determination, and every employee . . . is subject to the risk that the Commissioner will get it wrong." 987 F. 2d, at 559. The Ninth Circuit majority concluded by invoking the "general policies of federal labor law" strongly favoring the arbitration of disputes and reasoning that, "Congress would not want state officials erring

9 In the Court of Appeals, Livadas acknowledged that the portion of the District Court's order awarding monetary relief against the Commissioner in her official capacity was likely barred by the Eleventh Amendment, see Brief for Petitioner 43, n. 20. This and other issues arising from the scope of the remedy are better left for the courts below on remand.

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