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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court decides one today, just posted

In Commissioner of Labor on the Relation of Stephen R. Shofstall, Edward C. Posey, and Deborah N. Posey v. International Union of Painters and Allied Trades AFL-CIO, CLC District Council 91, a 9-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice Massa writes:

In July 2008, Stephen Shofstall and Edward Posey lost a union election, and with it their jobs. Deborah Posey, Edward’s wife, had served the Union as a clerical employee, but the new Business Manager/Secretary-Treasurer of the Union discharged her as well. All three sued the Union to recover compensation for unused accrued vacation pay, but the trial court granted summary judgment to the Union and the plaintiffs appealed. Because Shofstall and Edward Posey held elected positions, we find they should be treated differently than Deborah Posey, and we therefore affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand. * * *

The Union bylaws clearly address the compensation, including vacation pay, of its elected officers. They are thus an “arrangement or policy” as we used those terms in Highhouse, and based on our precedent in Givens, the Union is the sole arbiter of disputes arising under its governing documents. The only exception to the deference courts show in these cases is when an association perpetrates fraud or some other illegal act upon the member that abuses or interferes with that member’s civil or property rights. We see no such deprivation in this case, so we affirm the decision of the trial court as to Edward Posey and Stephen Shofstall’s claims.

Deborah Posey, as an employee, is entitled to accrue vacation pay unless there was an arrangement or policy to the contrary. Because we find there is an issue of material fact as to whether an arrangement or policy regarding vacation time existed during her employment, we reverse the trial court’s grant of summary judgment for the Union against Deborah Posey’s claim and remand this case back to the trial court to conduct further proceedings in accordance with this opinion.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 16, 2013 05:00 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions