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Greer v. The Metropolitan Council

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

April 25, 2014

Donald G. Greer, Plaintiff,
The Metropolitan Council, a public corporation and political subdivision, and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005, Defendants.


JEANNE J. GRAHAM, Magistrate Judge.

The above-captioned case is before the Court on Defendants Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005 and the Metropolitan Council's respective motions for summary judgment (ECF Nos. 98, 105). The motions were referred to the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge by the Honorable Michael J. Davis, Chief Judge, United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, in an Order of Reference dated November 14, 2013 (ECF No. 121). Plaintiff Donald G. Greer ("Greer") opposes summary judgment.

I. Background[1]

Greer was an employee of Metro Transit ("Metro Transit"), which is owned and operated by the Metropolitan Council ("the Council"), a public corporation. (Third Am. Compl. ¶¶ 4, 9, Sept. 26, 2012, ECF No. 52.) Metro Transit provides transportation services throughout the Twin Cities metropolitan area. ( Id. ¶ 4.) Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005 (ATU) is a labor organization that is responsible for negotiating a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) on behalf of a bargaining unit of Metro Transit employees. ( Id. ¶ 27.) Greer was a fair share fee payer of ATU. ( Id. ¶ 5.)

The CBA governing Greer's employment during the relevant time period went into effect August 1, 2010, and expired on July 31, 2012. (Louris Aff. Ex. B, Oct. 4, 2013, ECF No. 102 at 2.)[2] The CBA sets forth a procedure for processing grievances.[3] Article 5, Section 4 of the CBA states as follows:

1st Step. If the ATU wishes to initiate a grievance, it shall be reduced to writing, setting forth the nature of the grievance, the section(s) of the Agreement allegedly violated, and the relief requested, and filed with the appropriate Metro Transit representative. All grievances shall be filed within seven (7) days after the ATU or its members have knowledge of the facts giving rise to said grievance.
Within seven (7) days after receiving the written grievance, the Metro Transit representative and union representative shall arrange a meeting and attempt to resolve the grievance. First step grievances will be held at the employee's current work location. The Metro Transit representative hearing the grievance shall provide a written response within five (5) days of the meeting. If no mutually satisfactory adjustment can be reached, then the union may appeal the grievance in writing to the General Manager of Metro Transit or his appointee indicating their intent to proceed with the grievance process, within seven (7) days after the written response is given.
2nd Step. Within ten (10) days following the receipt of the written grievance appealing the first step response, the ATU will contact the General Manager of Metro Transit or his appointee to arrange a meeting in an attempt to resolve the grievance. Within ten (10) days of the second step meeting, or within such additional time as may be mutually agreed upon a written answer concerning the grievance will be provided.
If no resolution is reached, the dispute may be submitted to arbitration in accordance with Article 13 hereof, at the written request of either party to the Agreement. The ATU shall first notify Metro Transit in writing of its intention to recommend to its membership, at the next regular meeting or at any special meeting it may wish to call for that purpose, that arbitration be requested, and provided further that it shall advise Metro Transit in writing of the decision by the membership within five (5) business days after the conclusion of such meeting.
Either party may request, within seven (7) days of the second step response to pursue mediation, if mutually agreeable.
Failure to comply with procedures and time limits above outlined shall be deemed an abandonment or settlement of the grievance and shall terminate the matter. Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays shall be excluded in calculating the time limits herein specified.

( Id. at 6.)

Greer asserts that his claims relate to employment discipline ranging from October 31, 2011, to December 28, 2011, and the subsequent handling of grievances related to the discipline imposed. (Pl.'s Mem. Opp. Summ. J. at 1.)[4] Accordingly, the Court will focus its examination on events occurring on and after October 31, 2011.

A. Disciplinary Events and Grievances

It is undisputed that between October 31, 2011, and December 28, 2011, Greer received discipline from Metro Transit for various driving infractions.

On October 31, 2011, Greer was driving the bus and made a sudden stop, causing numerous passengers to fall and propelling a man in a wheelchair onto the floor. (Tentinger Aff. Ex. D (compact disc), Dec. 20, 2013, ECF No. 132.) Fellow passengers helped the man return to his wheelchair. ( Id. ) A passenger recommended Greer stop to determine if passengers were injured ( Id. ) Greer then consulted with the passenger in the wheelchair, who complained that he had just had a cast removed, and later left for Hennepin County Medical Center, which appears to have been his original destination. ( Id. ) A woman approached Greer and complained that she hurt her hand when Greer stopped, but said she would go to the hospital later. ( Id. ) Greer offered to contact a supervisor, but the woman declined and left the bus. ( Id. )

On November 21, 2011, Metro Transit disciplined Greer with a Record of Warning for the October 31, 2011, occurrence. (Louris Aff. Ex. B, ECF No. 102-5 at 40.) Greer maintained that the event should have been classified an "incident" rather than an "accident" and sought to correct his work record by filing a "home-made" grievance with Metro Transit on November 29, 2011. (Louris Aff. Ex. B, ECF No. 102-6 at 5-6.) The November 29 grievance does not specifically mention the October 31 accident and instead seeks ...

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