Matson v. UPS, 840 F.3d 1126 (9th Cir. 2016)

Mary Matson, a member of the Teamsters Union, worked as a “combination worker” unloading and sorting packages at UPS’s Boeing Field International hub in Seattle. During her employment, Matson allegedly complained that because of her gender she was subject to unfair and demeaning treatment in the workplace.  UPS subsequently fired Matson for “proven dishonesty,” relying upon results of an investigation into whether Matson had falsified delivery records. Matson filed a grievance, and a joint Teamsters/UPS labor panel affirmed her discharge. Matson then filed suit against UPS alleging that her termination was unlawfully motivated by race and gender discrimination and in retaliation for her prior complaints; that she was subjected to a gender-based hostile work environment — a claim largely, but not exclusively, based on the way UPS assigned work; and that UPS had committed various common law torts. UPS removed the state court action to federal court and moved for summary judgment, which was granted on the merits, except with respect to Matson’s gender discrimination, retaliation and gender-based hostile work-environment claim, which UPS asserted was preempted by Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (“LMRA”) on the grounds that the question of whether UPS assigned work based on factors other than gender required interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement (the “CBA”).  The district court rejected UPS’s LMRA preemption argument, and the case proceeded to trial.

The jury sided with UPS on Matson’s claims that her termination was motivated by gender and retaliation, but it awarded Matson $500,000 on the hostile work-environment claim. After UPS’s post-trial motion, the district court ordered a new trial based on LMRA preemption of that part of the hostile environment claim related to the assignment of work – i.e., accepting the argument that it had previously rejected. UPS won the second trial in which the jury considered whether there was proof of a hostile work environment based on conduct other than the assignment of work, and Matson appealed. In this opinion, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the judgment, holding that because Matson’s hostile work-environment claim could be resolved without interpretation of the CBA, the LMRA did not preempt the claim. The Court of Appeals remanded for reconsideration of the amount of damages owed to Matson. See also Gonzales v. CarMax Auto Superstores, LLC, 840 F.3d 644 (9th Cir. 2016) (amount in controversy requirement was satisfied where the potential cost of complying with injunctive relief was considered along with plaintiff’s claim for damages).

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Photo of Tony Oncidi Tony Oncidi

Anthony J. Oncidi is the co-chair of the Labor & Employment Law Department and heads the West Coast Labor & Employment group in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including…

Anthony J. Oncidi is the co-chair of the Labor & Employment Law Department and heads the West Coast Labor & Employment group in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including litigation and preventive counseling, wage and hour matters, including class actions, wrongful termination, employee discipline, Title VII and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, executive employment contract disputes, sexual harassment training and investigations, workplace violence, drug testing and privacy issues, Sarbanes-Oxley claims and employee raiding and trade secret protection. A substantial portion of Tony’s practice involves the defense of employers in large class actions, employment discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination litigation in state and federal court as well as arbitration proceedings, including FINRA matters.

Tony is recognized as a leading lawyer by such highly respected publications and organizations as the Los Angeles Daily JournalThe Hollywood Reporter, and Chambers USA, which gives him the highest possible rating (“Band 1”) for Labor & Employment.  According to Chambers USA, clients say Tony is “brilliant at what he does… He is even keeled, has a high emotional IQ, is a great legal writer and orator, and never gives up.” Other clients report:  “Tony has an outstanding reputation” and he is “smart, cost effective and appropriately aggressive.” Tony is hailed as “outstanding,” particularly for his “ability to merge top-shelf lawyerly advice with pragmatic business acumen.” He is highly respected in the industry, with other commentators lauding him as a “phenomenal strategist” and “one of the top employment litigators in the country.”

“Tony is the author of the treatise titled Employment Discrimination Depositions (Juris Pub’g 2020;, co-author of Proskauer on Privacy (PLI 2020), and, since 1990, has been a regular columnist for the official publication of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the State Bar of California and the Los Angeles Daily Journal.

Tony has been a featured guest on Fox 11 News and CBS News in Los Angeles. He has been interviewed and quoted by leading national media outlets such as The National Law JournalBloomberg News, The New York Times, and Newsweek and Time magazines. Tony is a frequent speaker on employment law topics for large and small groups of employers and their counsel, including the Society for Human Resource Management (“SHRM”), PIHRA, the National CLE Conference, National Business Institute, the Employment Round Table of Southern California (Board Member), the Council on Education in Management, the Institute for Corporate Counsel, the State Bar of California, the California Continuing Education of the Bar Program and the Los Angeles and Beverly Hills Bar Associations. He has testified as an expert witness regarding wage and hour issues as well as the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and has served as a faculty member of the National Employment Law Institute. He has served as an arbitrator in an employment discrimination matter.

Tony is an appointed Hearing Examiner for the Los Angeles Police Commission Board of Rights and has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law and a guest lecturer at USC Law School and a guest lecturer at UCLA Law School.