Communications Workers of America Sues AT&T in Contract Dispute

Labor union Communications Workers of America (CWA) filed a lawsuit against AT&T Mobility Services LLC for breach of an employment terms-related contract on Tuesday. The case concerns the discharge of a Florida AT&T retail store employee and the company’s alleged refusal to arbitrate on the basis that the union notified the company of its intent to arbitrate too late.

The complaint first notes that the Northern District of Georgia court has jurisdiction over the suit under the Labor-Management Relations Act. CWA further explains that it and AT&T have been parties to a series of agreements establishing the terms and conditions of employment for union employees.

The complaint recounts the failed administrative process between CWA and AT&T following the retail store employee’s alleged discharge without just cause in May 2019. Thereafter, the CWA initiated a grievance to challenge the decision.

The parties moved through the first step, after which CWA appealed. Communications between the parties and meetings with representatives ensued. When the second step did not result in resolution, CWA sought to arbitrate the ex-employee’s claims. 

Allegedly, AT&T refused the demand for arbitration because the “CWA’s intent to arbitrate the grievance was received more than 60 days after the Company’s denial of the grievance.” The company’s refusal violated the collective bargaining agreement, CWA said, pointing to provisions that outline the process for dealing with grievances.

The complaint states one claim for relief, breach of contract, and requests that the court require AT&T to arbitrate the dispute. It also seeks punitive damages and an award of CWA’s legal fees and costs.

CWA is represented by in-house counsel.