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Authors

Ira E. Goldberg

Abstract

Plaintiff, Jersey Central Power & Light Company (Jersey Central), a large public utility, was economically forced to announce a series of plant wide layoffs. The collective bargaining agreement in force between Jersey Central and various unions required that layoffs be conducted in reverse order of seniority, i.e., the last person hired is the first person to be fired. A conciliation agreement among Jersey Central, the unions and the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) called for the company to begin an affirmative action program designed to increase employment opportunities for women and minority workers. Plaintiff sought a declaratory judgment in federal district court as to its rights and obligations under the collective bargaining agreement, the conciliation agreement, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) and Executive Order 11246. Plaintiff named various locals of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (the Union), the EEOC, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance (OFCC), the General Services Administration (GSA), and the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights as defendants. Jersey Central took no position as to which of the two agreements must govern the proposed layoffs. The district court held that the layoffs could not alter the pre-layoff minority proportion of the work force by more than fifteen percent. On appeal, the Third Circuit reversed and held that layoffs were to be effectuated in accordance with the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement.

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