Galett v. NetJets Aviation Inc.
Absent a material dispute about the terms in a collective bargaining agreement, the need to refer to the collective bargaining agreement may be insufficient to result in the pre-emption of an employee's state-law claims. The plaintiff, Steven Galett, alleged that the defendant, NetJets Aviation Inc., promised to guaranty the plaintiff's seniority, although Galett does not belong to a union. The plaintiff's complaint alleged breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation and promissory estoppel. NetJets Aviation filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings and argued that Galett's claims are pre-empted by the Railway Labor Act, because they require the interpretation of collective bargaining. When ruling on pre-emption under the Railway Labor Act, courts can consider whether state-law claims are inextricably intertwined with consideration of the terms of the labor contract. The 2nd Circuit has held that individual employment contracts can be enforced under state law, if the employee relies on a promise that is not included in and that does not require the interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement. NetJets' alleged promise was not related to the collective bargaining agreement, and the District Court denied the defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings. "[E]xamination of the plaintiff's state law claims in light of the parties' preemption arguments," wrote the District Court, "shows that there is no material dispute concerning the meaning of the terms in the CBA." Absent a dispute, the need to refer to the collective bargaining agreement was insufficient to result in the pre-emption of the plaintiff's state-law claims.