The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed an order granting summary judgment to an employer in a case brought by a union to compel arbitration pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement. The district court had concluded that the complaint was untimely because it was filed beyond the six-month limitations period for complaints brought under Georgia law to compel arbitration under section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act. According to the district court, the employer, BellSouth, “unequivocally refused to arbitrate” more than six months before the union’s lawsuit. The Eleventh Circuit disagreed, agreeing with the union that the record demonstrated that discussions had continued between the parties regarding arbitrability and that BellSouth never unequivocally refused to arbitrate. The court found: “Debating the arbitrability of the grievance and keeping the scheduled arbitration are not unequivocal refusals to arbitrate.” The court vacated the summary judgment and remanded to the district court to consider the arbitrability issues raised in the summary judgment briefing.
Communications Workers of America v. BellSouth Telecommunications, LLC, No. 20-14244 (11th Cir. Apr. 20, 2021).