Boilermakers v. Hardeman,
401 U.S. 233 (1971)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Boilermakers v. Hardeman, 401 U.S. 233 (1971)

International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Shipbuilders,

Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers, AFL-CIO v. Hardeman

No. 123

Argued December 16, 1970

Decided February 24, 1971

401 U.S. 233


Respondent, who was a member of petitioner union, assaulted the business manager of his local for allegedly failing to refer him for a job, and was tried for this conduct by the union on charges of (1) creating dissension and working against the interest and harmony of the local, which carried a penalty of expulsion, and (2) threatening and using force to restrain an officer from discharging the duties of his union office, punishable "as warranted by the offense." He was found "guilty as charged" and expelled for an indefinite period. He later brought suit for damages alleging that petitioner violated § 101(a)(5) of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act by denying him a full and fair hearing in the disciplinary proceedings. The District Judge found that there was no transcript evidence to support the charge of creating dissension, and, since the union tribunal had returned only a general verdict, held that respondent was deprived of the statutory "full and fair hearing." The Court of Appeals affirmed. Certiorari was granted to consider whether the subject matter was preempted because exclusively within the competence of the National Labor Relations Board, or, if not, whether the courts below had applied the proper standard of review.


1. This action was within the competence of the District Court, as the issues here are whether respondent was denied rights guaranteed him by § 101(a)(5), and, if so, his consequent entitlement, pursuant to the federal statute, to damages for that denial, questions that are irrelevant to the legality of conduct under the National Labor Relations Act. Pp. 401 U. S. 237-241.

2. Section 101(a)(5) does not empower courts to determine what conduct may warrant disciplinary action by a union against its members. Pp. 401 U. S. 242-245.

3. The statutory "full and fair hearing" requires that the charging party provide some evidence at the hearing to support the

Page 401 U. S. 234

charges, and here there was sufficient evidence to support the finding that respondent assaulted the business manager as charged. Pp. 401 U. S. 245-247.

420 F.2d 485, reversed.

BRENNAN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and BLACK, HARLAN, STEWART, WHITE, MARSHALL, and BLACKMUN, JJ., joined. WHITE, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 401 U. S. 247. DOUGLAS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 401 U. S. 247.

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