14 Penn Plaza LLC v. Pyett , 556 U.S. 247 ( 2009 )


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  • (Slip Opinion)              OCTOBER TERM, 2008                                       1
    
                                           Syllabus
    
             NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is
           being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued.
           The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been
           prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader.
           See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 
    200 U.S. 321
    , 337.
    
    
    SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
    
                                           Syllabus
    
             14 PENN PLAZA LLC ET AL. v. PYETT ET AL.
    
    CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR
                     THE SECOND CIRCUIT
    
         No. 07–581.      Argued December 1, 2008—Decided April 1, 2009
    Respondents are members of the Service Employees International Un
      ion, Local 32BJ (Union). Under the National Labor Relations Act,
      the Union is the exclusive bargaining representative of employees
      within the building-services industry in New York City, which in
      cludes building cleaners, porters, and doorpersons. The Union has
      exclusive authority to bargain on behalf of its members over their
      “rates of pay, wages, hours of employment, or other conditions of em
      ployment,” 
    29 U.S. C
    . §159(a), and engages in industry-wide collec
      tive bargaining with the Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations,
      Inc. (RAB), a multiemployer bargaining association for the New York
      City real-estate industry. The agreement between the Union and the
      RAB is embodied in their Collective Bargaining Agreement for Con
      tractors and Building Owners (CBA). The CBA requires union mem
      bers to submit all claims of employment discrimination to binding ar
      bitration under the CBA’s grievance and dispute resolution
      procedures.
         Petitioner 14 Penn Plaza LLC is a member of the RAB. It owns
      and operates the New York City office building where respondents
      worked as night lobby watchmen and in other similar capacities. Re
      spondents were directly employed by petitioner Temco Service Indus
      tries, Inc. (Temco), a maintenance service and cleaning contractor.
      After 14 Penn Plaza, with the Union’s consent, engaged a unionized
      security contractor affiliated with Temco to provide licensed security
      guards for the building, Temco reassigned respondents to jobs as por
      ters and cleaners. Contending that these reassignments led to a loss
      in income, other damages, and were otherwise less desirable than
      their former positions, respondents asked the Union to file grievances
      alleging, among other things, that petitioners violated the CBA’s ban
    2                    14 PENN PLAZA LLC v. PYETT
    
                                     Syllabus
    
        on workplace discrimination by reassigning respondents on the basis
        of their age in violation of Age Discrimination in Employment Act of
        1967 (ADEA), 
    29 U.S. C
    . §621 et seq. The Union requested arbitra
        tion under the CBA, but after the initial hearing, withdrew the age
        discrimination claims on the ground that its consent to the new secu
        rity contract precluded it from objecting to respondents’ reassign
        ments as discriminatory. Respondents then filed a complaint with
        the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging
        that petitioners had violated their ADEA rights, and the EEOC is
        sued each of them a right-to-sue notice. In the ensuing lawsuit, the
        District Court denied petitioners’ motion to compel arbitration of re
        spondents’ age discrimination claims. The Second Circuit affirmed,
        holding that Alexander v. Gardner-Denver Co., 
    415 U.S. 36
    , forbids en
        forcement of collective-bargaining provisions requiring arbitration of
        ADEA claims.
    Held: A provision in a collective-bargaining agreement that clearly and
     unmistakably requires union members to arbitrate ADEA claims is
     enforceable as a matter of federal law. Pp. 6–25.
        (a) Examination of the two federal statutes at issue here, the
     ADEA and the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), yields a
     straightforward answer to the question presented. The Union and
     the RAB, negotiating on behalf of 14 Penn Plaza, collectively bar
     gained in good faith and agreed that employment-related discrimina
     tion claims, including ADEA claims, would be resolved in arbitration.
     This freely negotiated contractual term easily qualifies as a “condi
     tio[n] of employment” subject to mandatory bargaining under the
     NLRA, 
    29 U.S. C
    . §159(a). See, e.g., Litton Financial Printing Div.,
     Litton Business Systems, Inc. v. NLRB, 
    501 U.S. 190
    , 199. As in any
     contractual negotiation, a union may agree to the inclusion of an ar
     bitration provision in a collective-bargaining agreement in return for
     other concessions from the employer, and courts generally may not
     interfere in this bargained-for exchange. See NLRB v. Magnavox
     Co., 
    415 U.S. 322
    , 328. Thus, the CBA’s arbitration provision must
     be honored unless the ADEA itself removes this particular class of
     grievances from the NLRA’s broad sweep. See Mitsubishi Motors
     Corp. v. Soler Chrysler-Plymouth, Inc., 
    473 U.S. 614
    , 628. It does
     not. This Court has squarely held that the ADEA does not preclude
     arbitration of claims brought under the statute. See Gilmer v. Inter
     state/Johnson Lane Corp., 
    500 U.S. 20
    , 26–33. Pp. 6–10. Accord
     ingly, there is no legal basis for the Court to strike down the arbitra
     tion clause in this CBA, which was freely negotiated by the Union
     and the RAB, and which clearly and unmistakably requires respon
     dents to arbitrate the age-discrimination claims at issue in this ap
     peal. Pp. 6–10.
                       Cite as: 556 U. S. ____ (2009)                      3
    
                                  Syllabus
    
       (b) The CBA’s arbitration provision is also fully enforceable under
    the Gardner-Denver line of cases. Respondents incorrectly interpret
    Gardner-Denver and its progeny as holding that an agreement to ar
    bitrate ADEA claims provided for in a collective-bargaining agree
    ment cannot waive an individual employee’s right to a judicial forum
    under federal antidiscrimination statutes.. Pp. 11–23.
         (i) The facts underlying Gardner-Denver and its progeny reveal
    the narrow scope of the legal rule they engendered. Those cases “did
    not involve the issue of the enforceability of an agreement to arbi
    trate statutory claims,” but “the quite different issue whether arbi
    tration of contract-based claims precluded subsequent judicial resolu
    tion of statutory claims.” Gilmer, supra, at 35. Gardner-Denver does
    not control the outcome where, as here, the collective-bargaining
    agreement’s arbitration provision expressly covers both statutory and
    contractual discrimination claims. Pp. 11–15.
         (ii) Apart from their narrow holdings, the Gardner-Denver line of
    cases included broad dicta highly critical of using arbitration to vin
    dicate statutory antidiscrimination rights. That skepticism, however,
    rested on a misconceived view of arbitration that this Court has since
    abandoned. First, contrary to Gardner-Denver’s erroneous assump
    tion, 415 U. S., at 51, the decision to resolve ADEA claims by way of
    arbitration instead of litigation does not waive the statutory right to
    be free from workplace age discrimination; it waives only the right to
    seek relief from a court in the first instance, see, e.g., Gilmer, supra,
    at 26. Second, Gardner-Denver’s mistaken suggestion that certain in
    formal features of arbitration made it a forum “well suited to the
    resolution of contractual disputes,” but “a comparatively inappropri
    ate forum for the final resolution of [employment] rights.” 415 U. S.,
    at 56, has been corrected. See, e.g., Shearson/American Express Inc.
    v. McMahon, 
    482 U.S. 220
    , 232. Third, Gardner-Denver’s concern
    that, in arbitration, a union may subordinate an individual em
    ployee’s interests to the collective interests of all employees in the
    bargaining unit, 415 U. S., at 58, n. 19, cannot be relied on to intro
    duce a qualification into the ADEA that is not found in its text. Until
    Congress amends the ADEA to meet the conflict-of-interest concern
    identified in the Gardner-Denver dicta, there is “no reason to color
    the lens through which the arbitration clause is read.” Mitsubishi,
    supra, at 628. In any event, the conflict-of-interest argument
    amounts to an unsustainable collateral attack on the NLRA, see Em
    porium Capwell Co. v. Western Addition Community Organization,
    
    420 U.S. 50
    , 62, and Congress has accounted for the conflict in sev
    eral ways: union members may bring a duty of fair representation
    claim against the union; a union can be subjected to direct liability
    under the ADEA if it discriminates on the basis of age; and union
    4                     14 PENN PLAZA LLC v. PYETT
    
                                      Syllabus
    
        members may also file age-discrimination claims with the EEOC and
        the National Labor Relations Board. Pp. 15–23.
           (c) Because respondents’ arguments that the CBA does not clearly
        and unmistakably require them to arbitrate their ADEA claims were
        not raised in the lower courts, they have been forfeited. Moreover, al
        though a substantive waiver of federally protected civil rights will not
        be upheld, see, e.g., Mitsubishi, supra, at 637, and n. 19, this Court is
        not positioned to resolve in the first instance respondents’ claim that
        the CBA allows the Union to prevent them from effectively vindicat
        ing their federal statutory rights in the arbitral forum, given that
        this question would require resolution of contested factual allega
        tions, was not fully briefed here or below, and is not fairly encom
        passed within the question presented. Resolution now would be par
        ticularly inappropriate in light of the Court’s hesitation to invalidate
        arbitration agreements based on speculation. See, e.g., Green Tree
        Financial Corp.-Ala. v. Randolph, 
    531 U.S. 79
    . Pp. 23–25.
    
    498 F.3d 88
    , reversed and remanded.
    
      THOMAS, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS,
    C. J., and SCALIA, KENNEDY, and ALITO, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed a
    dissenting opinion. SOUTER, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which STE-
    VENS, GINSBURG, and BREYER, JJ., joined.
                           Cite as: 556 U. S. ____ (2009)                              1
    
                                Opinion of the Court
    
        NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the
        preliminary print of the United States Reports. Readers are requested to
        notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Court of the United States, Wash
        ington, D. C. 20543, of any typographical or other formal errors, in order
        that corrections may be made before the preliminary print goes to press.
    
    
    SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
                                      _________________
    
                                      No. 07–581
                                      _________________
    
    
        14 PENN PLAZA LLC, ET AL., PETITIONERS v.
                  STEVEN PYETT ET AL.
     ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF 
    
               APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT
    
                                    [April 1, 2009]
    
    
      JUSTICE THOMAS delivered the opinion of the Court.
      The question presented by this case is whether a provi
    sion in a collective-bargaining agreement that clearly and
    unmistakably requires union members to arbitrate claims
    arising under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
    of 1967 (ADEA), 81 Stat. 602, as amended, 
    29 U.S. C
    .
    §621 et seq., is enforceable. The United States Court of
    Appeals for the Second Circuit held that this Court’s
    decision in Alexander v. Gardner-Denver Co., 
    415 U.S. 36
    (1974), forbids enforcement of such arbitration provisions.
    We disagree and reverse the judgment of the Court of
    Appeals.
                                I
      Respondents are members of the Service Employees
    International Union, Local 32BJ (Union). Under the
    National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), 49 Stat. 449, as
    amended, the Union is the exclusive bargaining represen
    tative of employees within the building-services industry
    in New York City, which includes building cleaners, por
    ters, and doorpersons. See 
    29 U.S. C
    . §159(a). In this
    role, the Union has exclusive authority to bargain on
    2                   14 PENN PLAZA LLC v. PYETT
    
                              Opinion of the Court
    
    behalf of its members over their “rates of pay, wages,
    hours of employment, or other conditions of employment.”
    Ibid. Since the 1930’s, the Union has engaged in industry
    wide collective bargaining with the Realty Advisory Board
    on Labor Relations, Inc. (RAB), a multiemployer bargain
    ing association for the New York City real-estate industry.
    The agreement between the Union and the RAB is embod
    ied in their Collective Bargaining Agreement for Contrac
    tors and Building Owners (CBA). The CBA requires union
    members to submit all claims of employment discrimina
    tion to binding arbitration under the CBA’s grievance and
    dispute resolution procedures:
         Ҥ30 NO DISCRIMINATION. There shall be no dis
         crimination against any present or future employee by
         reason of race, creed, color, age, disability, national
         origin, sex, union membership, or any other character
         istic protected by law, including, but not limited to,
         claims made pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights
         Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Dis
         crimination in Employment Act, the New York State
         Human Rights Law, the New York City Human
         Rights Code, . . . or any other similar laws, rules, or
         regulations. All such claims shall be subject to the
         grievance and arbitration procedures (Articles V and
         VI) as the sole and exclusive remedy for violations.
         Arbitrators shall apply appropriate law in rendering
         decisions based upon claims of discrimination.” App.
         to Pet. for Cert. 48a.1
    
    ——————
      1 Article V establishes the grievance process, which applies to all
    
    claims regardless of whether they are subject to arbitration under the
    CBA. Article VI establishes the procedures for arbitration and postar
    bitration judicial review, and, in particular, provides that the arbitrator
    “shall . . . decide all differences arising between the parties as to inter
    pretation, application or performance of any part of this Agreement and
    such other issues as the parties are expressly required to arbitrate
                        Cite as: 556 U. S. ____ (2009)                  3
    
                            Opinion of the Court
    
       Petitioner 14 Penn Plaza LLC is a member of the RAB.
    It owns and operates the New York City office building
    where, prior to August 2003, respondents worked as night
    lobby watchmen and in other similar capacities. Respon
    dents were directly employed by petitioner Temco Service
    Industries, Inc. (Temco), a maintenance service and clean
    ing contractor. In August 2003, with the Union’s consent,
    14 Penn Plaza engaged Spartan Security, a unionized
    security services contractor and affiliate of Temco, to
    provide licensed security guards to staff the lobby and
    entrances of its building. Because this rendered respon
    dents’ lobby services unnecessary, Temco reassigned them
    to jobs as night porters and light duty cleaners in other
    locations in the building. Respondents contend that these
    reassignments led to a loss in income, caused them emo
    tional distress, and were otherwise less desirable than
    their former positions.
       At respondents’ request, the Union filed grievances
    challenging the reassignments. The grievances alleged
    that petitioners: (1) violated the CBA’s ban on workplace
    discrimination by reassigning respondents on account of
    their age; (2) violated seniority rules by failing to promote
    one of the respondents to a handyman position; and (3)
    failed to equitably rotate overtime. After failing to obtain
    relief on any of these claims through the grievance proc
    ess, the Union requested arbitration under the CBA.
       After the initial arbitration hearing, the Union with
    drew the first set of respondents’ grievances—the age
    discrimination claims—from arbitration. Because it had
    consented to the contract for new security personnel at 14
    Penn Plaza, the Union believed that it could not legiti
    mately object to respondents’ reassignments as discrimi
    natory. But the Union continued to arbitrate the seniority
    —————— 
    
    before him under the terms of this Agreement.” App. to Pet. for Cert.
    
    43a–47a. 
    
    4                   14 PENN PLAZA LLC v. PYETT
    
                              Opinion of the Court
    
    and overtime claims, and, after several hearings, the
    claims were denied.
       In May 2004, while the arbitration was ongoing but
    after the Union withdrew the age-discrimination claims,
    respondents filed a complaint with the Equal Employment
    Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging that petitioners
    had violated their rights under the ADEA. Approximately
    one month later, the EEOC issued a Dismissal and Notice
    of Rights, which explained that the agency’s “ ‘review of
    the evidence . . . fail[ed] to indicate that a violation ha[d]
    occurred,’ ” and notified each respondent of his right to
    sue. Pyett v. Pennsylvania Building Co., 
    498 F.3d 88
    , 91
    (CA2 2007).
       Respondents thereafter filed suit against petitioners in
    the United States District Court for the Southern District
    of New York, alleging that their reassignment violated the
    ADEA and state and local laws prohibiting age discrimi
    nation.2 Petitioners filed a motion to compel arbitration of
    respondents’ claims pursuant to §3 and §4 of the Federal
    Arbitration Act (FAA), 
    9 U.S. C
    . §§3, 4.3 The District
    Court denied the motion because under Second Circuit
    precedent, “even a clear and unmistakable union
    ——————
      2 Respondents also filed a “hybrid” lawsuit against the Union and
    
    petitioners under §301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 1947,
    
    29 U.S. C
    . §185, see also DelCostello v. Teamsters, 
    462 U.S. 151
    , 164–
    165 (1983), alleging that the Union breached its “duty of fair represen
    tation” under the NLRA by withdrawing support for the age
    discrimination claims during the arbitration and that petitioners
    breached the CBA by reassigning respondents. Respondents later
    voluntarily dismissed this suit with prejudice.
      3 Petitioners also filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to
    
    state a claim. The District Court denied the motion, holding that
    respondents had sufficiently alleged an ADEA claim by claiming that
    they “were over the age of 40, . . . they were reassigned to positions
    which led to substantial losses in income, and . . . their replacements
    were both younger and had less seniority at the building.” App. to Pet.
    for Cert. 20a (footnote omitted). Petitioners have not appealed that
    ruling.
                     Cite as: 556 U. S. ____ (2009)            5
    
                         Opinion of the Court
    
    negotiated waiver of a right to litigate certain federal and
    state statutory claims in a judicial forum is unenforce
    able.” App. to Pet. for Cert. 21a. Respondents immedi
    ately appealed the ruling under §16 of the FAA, which
    authorizes an interlocutory appeal of “an order . . . refus
    ing a stay of any action under section 3 of this title” or
    “denying a petition under section 4 of this title to order
    arbitration to proceed.” 
    9 U.S. C
    . §§16(a)(1)(A)–(B).
       The Court of Appeals affirmed. 
    498 F.3d 88
    . According
    to the Court of Appeals, it could not compel arbitration of
    the dispute because Gardner-Denver, which “remains good
    law,” held “that a collective bargaining agreement could
    not waive covered workers’ rights to a judicial forum for
    causes of action created by Congress.” 
    498 F. 3d
    , at 92, 91,
    n. 3 (citing Gardner-Denver, 415 U. S., at 49–51). The
    Court of Appeals observed that the Gardner-Denver deci
    sion was in tension with this Court’s more recent decision
    in Gilmer v. Interstate/Johnson Lane Corp., 
    500 U.S. 20
    (1991), which “held that an individual employee who had
    agreed individually to waive his right to a federal forum
    could be compelled to arbitrate a federal age discrimina
    tion claim.” 
    498 F. 3d
    , at 91, n. 3 (citing Gilmer, supra, at
    33–35; emphasis in original). The Court of Appeals also
    noted that this Court previously declined to resolve this
    tension in Wright v. Universal Maritime Service Corp., 
    525 U.S. 70
    , 82 (1998), where the waiver at issue was not
    “clear and unmistakable.” 
    498 F. 3d
    , at 91, n. 3.
       The Court of Appeals attempted to reconcile Gardner-
    Denver and Gilmer by holding that arbitration provisions
    in a collective-bargaining agreement, “which purport to
    waive employees’ rights to a federal forum with respect to
    statutory claims, are unenforceable.” 
    498 F. 3d
    , at 93–94.
    As a result, an individual employee would be free to
    choose compulsory arbitration under Gilmer, but a labor
    union could not collectively bargain for arbitration on
    behalf of its members. We granted certiorari, 
    552 U.S. 6
                      14 PENN PLAZA LLC v. PYETT
    
                              Opinion of the Court
    
    ___ (2008), to address the issue left unresolved in Wright,
    which continues to divide the Courts of Appeals,4 and now
    reverse.
                                  II 
    
                                  A
    
       The NLRA governs federal labor-relations law. As
    permitted by that statute, respondents designated the
    Union as their “exclusive representativ[e] . . . for the
    purposes of collective bargaining in respect to rates of pay,
    wages, hours of employment, or other conditions of em
    ployment.” 
    29 U.S. C
    . §159(a). As the employees’ exclu
    sive bargaining representative, the Union “enjoys broad
    authority . . . in the negotiation and administration of
    [the] collective bargaining contract.” Communications
    Workers v. Beck, 
    487 U.S. 735
    , 739 (1988) (internal quota
    tion marks omitted). But this broad authority “is accom
    panied by a responsibility of equal scope, the responsibility
    and duty of fair representation.” Humphrey v. Moore, 
    375 U.S. 335
    , 342 (1964). The employer has a corresponding
    duty under the NLRA to bargain in good faith “with the
    representatives of his employees” on wages, hours, and
    conditions of employment. 
    29 U.S. C
    . §158(a)(5); see also
    §158(d).
       In this instance, the Union and the RAB, negotiating on
    behalf of 14 Penn Plaza, collectively bargained in good
    faith and agreed that employment-related discrimination
    claims, including claims brought under the ADEA, would
    be resolved in arbitration. This freely negotiated term
    between the Union and the RAB easily qualifies as a
    “conditio[n] of employment” that is subject to mandatory
    ——————
      4 Compare, e.g., Rogers v. New York Univ., 
    220 F.3d 73
    , 75 (CA2
    
    2000) (per curiam); O’Brien v. Agawam, 
    350 F.3d 279
    , 285 (CA1 2003);
    Mitchell v. Chapman, 
    343 F.3d 811
    , 824 (CA6 2003); Tice v. American
    Airlines, Inc., 
    288 F.3d 313
    , 317 (CA7 2002), with, e.g., Eastern Associ
    ated Coal Corp. v. Massey, 
    373 F.3d 530
    , 533 (CA4 2004).
                         Cite as: 556 U. S. ____ (2009)                     7
    
                              Opinion of the Court
    
    bargaining under §159(a). See Litton Financial Printing
    Div., Litton Business Systems, Inc. v. NLRB, 
    501 U.S. 190
    , 199 (1991) (“[A]rrangements for arbitration of dis
    putes are a term or condition of employment and a manda
    tory subject of bargaining”); Steelworkers v. Warrior &
    Gulf Nav. Co., 
    363 U.S. 574
    , 578 (1960) (“[A]rbitration of
    labor disputes under collective bargaining agreements is
    part and parcel of the collective bargaining process itself”);
    Textile Workers v. Lincoln Mills of Ala., 
    353 U.S. 448
    , 455
    (1957) (“Plainly the agreement to arbitrate grievance
    disputes is the quid pro quo for an agreement not to
    strike”). The decision to fashion a CBA to require arbitra
    tion of employment-discrimination claims is no different
    from the many other decisions made by parties in design
    ing grievance machinery.5
       Respondents, however, contend that the arbitration
    clause here is outside the permissible scope of the collec
    tive-bargaining process because it affects the “employees’
    individual, non-economic statutory rights.” Brief for Re
    spondents 22; see also post, at 5–6 (SOUTER, J., dissent
    ing). We disagree. Parties generally favor arbitration
    ——————
      5 JUSTICE SOUTER claims that this understanding is “impossible to
    
    square with our conclusion in [Alexander v.] Gardner-Denver [Co., 
    415 U.S. 36
     (1974)] that ‘Title VII . . . stands on plainly different ground’
    from ‘statutory rights related to collective activity’: ‘it concerns not
    majoritarian processes, but an individual’s right to equal employment
    opportunities.’ ” Post, at 5 (dissenting opinion) (quoting Gardner-
    Denver, 415 U. S., at 51). As explained below, however, JUSTICE
    SOUTER repeats the key analytical mistake made in Gardner-Denver’s
    dicta by equating the decision to arbitrate Title VII and ADEA claims
    to a decision to forgo these substantive guarantees against workplace
    discrimination. See infra, at 15–17. The right to a judicial forum is not
    the nonwaivable “substantive” right protected by the ADEA. See infra,
    at 9, 24. Thus, although Title VII and ADEA rights may well stand on
    “different ground” than statutory rights that protect “majoritarian
    processes,” Gardner-Denver, supra, at 51, the voluntary decision to
    collectively bargain for arbitration does not deny those statutory
    antidiscrimination rights the full protection they are due.
    8               14 PENN PLAZA LLC v. PYETT
    
                          Opinion of the Court
    
    precisely because of the economics of dispute resolution.
    See Circuit City Stores, Inc. v. Adams, 
    532 U.S. 105
    , 123
    (2001) (“Arbitration agreements allow parties to avoid the
    costs of litigation, a benefit that may be of particular
    importance in employment litigation, which often involves
    smaller sums of money than disputes concerning commer
    cial contracts”). As in any contractual negotiation, a union
    may agree to the inclusion of an arbitration provision in a
    collective-bargaining agreement in return for other con
    cessions from the employer. Courts generally may not
    interfere in this bargained-for exchange. “Judicial nullifi
    cation of contractual concessions . . . is contrary to what
    the Court has recognized as one of the fundamental poli
    cies of the National Labor Relations Act—freedom of
    contract.” NLRB v. Magnavox Co., 
    415 U.S. 322
    , 328
    (1974) (Stewart, J., concurring in part and dissenting in
    part) (internal quotation marks and brackets omitted).
      As a result, the CBA’s arbitration provision must be
    honored unless the ADEA itself removes this particular
    class of grievances from the NLRA’s broad sweep. See
    Mitsubishi Motors Corp. v. Soler Chrysler-Plymouth, Inc.,
    
    473 U.S. 614
    , 628 (1985). It does not. This Court has
    squarely held that the ADEA does not preclude arbitration
    of claims brought under the statute. See Gilmer, 500
    U. S., at 26–33.
      In Gilmer, the Court explained that “[a]lthough all
    statutory claims may not be appropriate for arbitration,
    ‘having made the bargain to arbitrate, the party should be
    held to it unless Congress itself has evinced an intention
    to preclude a waiver of judicial remedies for the statutory
    rights at issue.’ ” Id., at 26 (quoting Mitsubishi Motors
    Corp., supra, at 628). And “if Congress intended the sub
    stantive protection afforded by the ADEA to include pro
    tection against waiver of the right to a judicial forum, that
    intention will be deducible from text or legislative history.”
    500 U. S., at 29 (internal quotation marks and brackets
                         Cite as: 556 U. S. ____ (2009)                  9
    
                              Opinion of the Court
    
    omitted). The Court determined that “nothing in the text
    of the ADEA or its legislative history explicitly precludes
    arbitration.” Id., at 26–27. The Court also concluded that
    arbitrating ADEA disputes would not undermine the
    statute’s “remedial and deterrent function.” Id., at 28
    (internal quotation marks omitted). In the end, the em
    ployee’s “generalized attacks” on “the adequacy of arbitra
    tion procedures” were “insufficient to preclude arbitration
    of statutory claims,” id., at 30, because there was no evi
    dence that “Congress, in enacting the ADEA, intended to
    preclude arbitration of claims under that Act,” id., at 35.
       The Gilmer Court’s interpretation of the ADEA fully
    applies in the collective-bargaining context. Nothing in
    the law suggests a distinction between the status of arbi
    tration agreements signed by an individual employee and
    those agreed to by a union representative. This Court has
    required only that an agreement to arbitrate statutory
    antidiscrimination claims be “explicitly stated” in the
    collective-bargaining agreement. Wright, 525 U. S., at 80
    (internal quotation marks omitted). The CBA under
    review here meets that obligation. Respondents incor
    rectly counter that an individual employee must person
    ally “waive” a “[substantive] right” to proceed in court for a
    waiver to be “knowing and voluntary” under the ADEA.
    
    29 U.S. C
    . §626(f)(1). As explained below, however, the
    agreement to arbitrate ADEA claims is not the waiver of a
    “substantive right” as that term is employed in the ADEA.
    Wright, supra, at 80; see infra, at 15–16. Indeed, if the
    “right” referred to in §626(f)(1) included the prospective
    waiver of the right to bring an ADEA claim in court, even
    a waiver signed by an individual employee would be inva
    lid as the statute also prevents individuals from “waiv[ing]
    rights or claims that may arise after the date the waiver is
    executed.” §626(f)(1)(C).6
    ——————
     6 Respondents’   contention that §118 of the Civil Rights Act of 1991,
    10                  14 PENN PLAZA LLC v. PYETT
    
                              Opinion of the Court
    
       Examination of the two federal statutes at issue in this
    case, therefore, yields a straightforward answer to the
    question presented: The NLRA provided the Union and
    the RAB with statutory authority to collectively bargain
    for arbitration of workplace discrimination claims, and
    Congress did not terminate that authority with respect to
    federal age-discrimination claims in the ADEA. Accord
    ingly, there is no legal basis for the Court to strike down
    the arbitration clause in this CBA, which was freely nego
    tiated by the Union and the RAB, and which clearly and
    unmistakably requires respondents to arbitrate the age
    discrimination claims at issue in this appeal. Congress
    
    ——————
    Pub. L. 102–166, 105 Stat. 1081, note following 
    42 U.S. C
    . §1981 (2000
    ed.), precludes the enforcement of this arbitration agreement also is
    misplaced. See Brief for Respondents 31–32; see also post, at 8–9
    (SOUTER, J., dissenting). Section 118 expresses Congress’ support for
    alternative dispute resolution: “Where appropriate and to the extent
    authorized by law, the use of alternative means of dispute resolution,
    including . . . arbitration, is encouraged to resolve disputes arising
    under” the ADEA. 105 Stat. 1081, note following 42 U. S C. §1981.
    Respondents argue that the legislative history actually signals Con
    gress’ intent to preclude arbitration waivers in the collective-bargaining
    context. In particular, respondents point to a House Report that, in
    spite of the statute’s plain language, interprets §118 to support their
    position. See H. R. Rep. No. 102–40, pt. 1, p. 97 (1991) (“[A]ny agree
    ment to submit disputed issues to arbitration . . . in the context of a
    collective bargaining agreement . . . does not preclude the affected
    person from seeking relief under the enforcement provisions of Title
    VII. This view is consistent with the Supreme Court’s interpretation of
    Title VII in Alexander v. Gardner-Denver Co., 
    415 U.S. 36
     (1974)”).
    But the legislative history mischaracterizes the holding of Gardner-
    Denver, which does not prohibit collective bargaining for arbitration of
    ADEA claims. See infra, at 11–14. Moreover, reading the legislative
    history in the manner suggested by respondents would create a direct
    conflict with the statutory text, which encourages the use of arbitration
    for dispute resolution without imposing any constraints on collective
    bargaining. In such a contest, the text must prevail. See Ratzlaf v.
    United States, 
    510 U.S. 135
    , 147–148 (1994) (“[W]e do not resort to
    legislative history to cloud a statutory text that is clear”).
                      Cite as: 556 U. S. ____ (2009)           11
    
                          Opinion of the Court
    
    has chosen to allow arbitration of ADEA claims.          The
    Judiciary must respect that choice.
                                  B
      The CBA’s arbitration provision is also fully enforceable
    under the Gardner-Denver line of cases. Respondents
    interpret Gardner-Denver and its progeny to hold that “a
    union cannot waive an employee’s right to a judicial forum
    under the federal antidiscrimination statutes” because
    “allowing the union to waive this right would substitute
    the union’s interests for the employee’s antidiscrimination
    rights.” Brief for Respondents 12. The “combination of
    union control over the process and inherent conflict of
    interest with respect to discrimination claims,” they argue,
    “provided the foundation for the Court’s holding [in Gard
    ner-Denver] that arbitration under a collective-bargaining
    agreement could not preclude an individual employee’s
    right to bring a lawsuit in court to vindicate a statutory
    discrimination claim.” Id., at 15. We disagree.
                                   1
      The holding of Gardner-Denver is not as broad as re
    spondents suggest. The employee in that case was covered
    by a collective-bargaining agreement that prohibited
    “discrimination against any employee on account of race,
    color, religion, sex, national origin, or ancestry” and that
    guaranteed that “[n]o employee will be discharged . . . except
    for just cause.” 415 U. S., at 39 (internal quotation marks
    omitted). The agreement also included a “multistep griev
    ance procedure” that culminated in compulsory arbitration
    for any “differences aris[ing] between the Company and the
    Union as to the meaning and application of the provisions of
    this Agreement” and “any trouble aris[ing] in the plant.”
    Id., at 40–41 (internal quotation marks omitted).
      The employee was discharged for allegedly producing
    too many defective parts while working for the respondent
    12              14 PENN PLAZA LLC v. PYETT
    
                          Opinion of the Court
    
    as a drill operator. He filed a grievance with his union
    claiming that he was “ ‘unjustly discharged’ ” in violation of
    the “ ‘just cause’ ” provision within the CBA. Then at the
    final prearbitration step of the grievance process, the
    employee added a claim that he was discharged because of
    his race. Id., at 38–42.
       The arbitrator ultimately ruled that the employee had
    been “ ‘discharged for just cause,’ ” but “made no reference
    to [the] claim of racial discrimination.” Id., at 42. After
    obtaining a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC, the em
    ployee filed a claim in Federal District Court, alleging
    racial discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil
    Rights Act of 1964. The District Court issued a decision,
    affirmed by the Court of Appeals, which granted summary
    judgment to the employer because it concluded that “the
    claim of racial discrimination had been submitted to the
    arbitrator and resolved adversely to [the employee].” Id.,
    at 43. In the District Court’s view, “having voluntarily
    elected to pursue his grievance to final arbitration under
    the nondiscrimination clause of the collective-bargaining
    agreement,” the employee was “bound by the arbitral
    decision” and precluded from suing his employer on any
    other grounds, such as a statutory claim under Title VII.
    Ibid.
       This Court reversed the judgment on the narrow ground
    that the arbitration was not preclusive because the collec
    tive-bargaining agreement did not cover statutory claims.
    As a result, the lower courts erred in relying on the “doc
    trine of election of remedies” to bar the employee’s Title
    VII claim. Id., at 49. “That doctrine, which refers to
    situations where an individual pursues remedies that are
    legally or factually inconsistent” with each other, did not
    apply to the employee’s dual pursuit of arbitration and a
    Title VII discrimination claim in district court. The em
    ployee’s collective-bargaining agreement did not mandate
    arbitration of statutory antidiscrimination claims. Id., at
                      Cite as: 556 U. S. ____ (2009)           13
    
                          Opinion of the Court
    
    49–50. “As the proctor of the bargain, the arbitrator’s task
    is to effectuate the intent of the parties.” Id., at 53. Be
    cause the collective-bargaining agreement gave the arbi
    trator “authority to resolve only questions of contractual
    rights,” his decision could not prevent the employee from
    bringing the Title VII claim in federal court “regardless of
    whether certain contractual rights are similar to, or dupli
    cative of, the substantive rights secured by Title VII.” Id.,
    at 53–54; see also id., at 50.
       The Court also explained that the employee had not
    waived his right to pursue his Title VII claim in federal
    court by participating in an arbitration that was premised
    on the same underlying facts as the Title VII claim. See
    id., at 52. Thus, whether the legal theory of preclusion
    advanced by the employer rested on “the doctrines of
    election of remedies” or was recast “as resting instead on
    the doctrine of equitable estoppel and on themes of res
    judicata and collateral estoppel,” id., at 49, n. 10 (internal
    quotation marks omitted), it could not prevail in light of
    the collective-bargaining agreement’s failure to address
    arbitration of Title VII claims. See id., at 46, n. 6 (“[W]e
    hold that the federal policy favoring arbitration does not
    establish that an arbitrator’s resolution of a contractual
    claim is dispositive of a statutory claim under Title VII”
    (emphasis added)).
       The Court’s decisions following Gardner-Denver have
    not broadened its holding to make it applicable to the facts
    of this case. In Barrentine v. Arkansas-Best Freight Sys
    tem, Inc., 
    450 U.S. 728
     (1981), the Court considered
    “whether an employee may bring an action in federal
    district court, alleging a violation of the minimum wage
    provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, . . . after
    having unsuccessfully submitted a wage claim based on
    the same underlying facts to a joint grievance committee
    pursuant to the provisions of his union’s collective
    bargaining agreement.” Id., at 729–730. The Court held
    14              14 PENN PLAZA LLC v. PYETT
    
                         Opinion of the Court
    
    that the unsuccessful arbitration did not preclude the
    federal lawsuit. Like the collective-bargaining agreement
    in Gardner-Denver, the arbitration provision under review
    in Barrentine did not expressly reference the statutory
    claim at issue. See 450 U. S., at 731, n. 5. The Court thus
    reiterated that an “arbitrator’s power is both derived from,
    and limited by, the collective-bargaining agreement” and
    “[h]is task is limited to construing the meaning of the
    collective-bargaining agreement so as to effectuate the
    collective intent of the parties.” Id., at 744.
       McDonald v. West Branch, 
    466 U.S. 284
     (1984), was
    decided along similar lines. The question presented in
    that case was “whether a federal court may accord preclu
    sive effect to an unappealed arbitration award in a case
    brought under [
    42 U.S. C
    . §1983].” Id., at 285. The Court
    declined to fashion such a rule, again explaining that
    “because an arbitrator’s authority derives solely from the
    contract, Barrentine, supra, at 744, an arbitrator may not
    have authority to enforce §1983” when that provision is
    left unaddressed by the arbitration agreement. Id., at
    290. Accordingly, as in both Gardner-Denver and Barren
    tine, the Court’s decision in McDonald hinged on the scope
    of the collective-bargaining agreement and the arbitrator’s
    parallel mandate.
       The facts underlying Gardner-Denver, Barrentine, and
    McDonald reveal the narrow scope of the legal rule arising
    from that trilogy of decisions. Summarizing those opin
    ions in Gilmer, this Court made clear that the Gardner-
    Denver line of cases “did not involve the issue of the en
    forceability of an agreement to arbitrate statutory claims.”
    500 U. S., at 35. Those decisions instead “involved the
    quite different issue whether arbitration of contract-based
    claims precluded subsequent judicial resolution of statu
    tory claims. Since the employees there had not agreed to
    arbitrate their statutory claims, and the labor arbitrators
    were not authorized to resolve such claims, the arbitration
                          Cite as: 556 U. S. ____ (2009)                    15
    
                              Opinion of the Court
    
    in those cases understandably was held not to preclude
    subsequent statutory actions.” Ibid.; see also Wright, 525
    U. S., at 76; Livadas v. Bradshaw, 
    512 U.S. 107
    , 127,
    n. 21 (1994).7 Gardner-Denver and its progeny thus do not
    control the outcome where, as is the case here, the collec
    tive-bargaining agreement’s arbitration provision ex
    pressly covers both statutory and contractual discrimina
    tion claims.8
    
    
    ——————
      7 JUSTICE  SOUTER’s reliance on Wright v. Universal Maritime Service
    Corp., 
    525 U.S. 70
     (1998), to support its view of Gardner-Denver is
    misplaced. See post, at 5, 7. Wright identified the “tension” between
    the two lines of cases represented by Gardner-Denver and Gilmer, but
    found “it unnecessary to resolve the question of the validity of a union
    negotiated waiver, since it [was] apparent . . . on the facts and argu
    ments presented . . . that no such waiver [had] occurred.” 525 U. S., at
    76–77. And although his dissent describes Wright’s characterization of
    Gardner-Denver as “raising a ‘seemingly absolute prohibition of union
    waiver of employees’ federal forum rights,’ ” post, at 7 (quoting Wright,
    525 U. S., at 80), it wrenches the statement out of context: “Although
    [the right to a judicial forum] is not a substantive right, see Gilmer, 500
    U. S., at 26, and whether or not Gardner-Denver’s seemingly absolute
    prohibition of union waiver of employees’ federal forum rights survives
    Gilmer, Gardner-Denver at least stands for the proposition that the
    right to a federal judicial forum is of sufficient importance to be pro
    tected against less-than-explicit union waiver in a CBA,” id., at 80
    (emphasis added). Wright therefore neither endorsed Gardner-Denver’s
    broad language nor suggested a particular result in this case.
      8 Because today’s decision does not contradict the holding of Gardner-
    
    Denver, we need not resolve the stare decisis concerns raised by the
    dissenting opinions. See post, at 4, 9 (opinion of SOUTER, J.); post, at 2–
    4 (opinion of STEVENS, J.). But given the development of this Court’s
    arbitration jurisprudence in the intervening years, see infra, at 16–19,
    Gardner-Denver would appear to be a strong candidate for overruling if
    the dissents’ broad view of its holding, see post, at 6–7 (opinion of
    SOUTER, J.), were correct. See Patterson v. McLean Credit Union, 
    491 U.S. 164
    , 173 (1989) (explaining that it is appropriate to overrule a
    decision where there “has been [an] intervening development of the
    law” such that the earlier “decision [is] irreconcilable with competing
    legal doctrines and policies”).
    16              14 PENN PLAZA LLC v. PYETT
    
                          Opinion of the Court
    
                                   2
       We recognize that apart from their narrow holdings, the
    Gardner-Denver line of cases included broad dicta that
    was highly critical of the use of arbitration for the vindica
    tion of statutory antidiscrimination rights. That skepti
    cism, however, rested on a misconceived view of arbitra
    tion that this Court has since abandoned.
       First, the Court in Gardner-Denver erroneously as
    sumed that an agreement to submit statutory discrimina
    tion claims to arbitration was tantamount to a waiver of
    those rights. See 415 U. S., at 51. (“[T]here can be no
    prospective waiver of an employee’s rights under Title VII”
    (emphasis added)). For this reason, the Court stated, “the
    rights conferred [by Title VII] can form no part of the
    collective-bargaining process since waiver of these rights
    would defeat the paramount congressional purpose behind
    Title VII.” Ibid.; see also id., at 56 (“we have long recog
    nized that ‘the choice of forums inevitably affects the scope
    of the substantive right to be vindicated’ ” (quoting U. S.
    Bulk Carriers, Inc. v. Arguelles, 
    400 U.S. 351
    , 359–360
    (1971) (Harlan, J., concurring))).
       The Court was correct in concluding that federal anti
    discrimination rights may not be prospectively waived, see
    
    29 U.S. C
    . §626(f)(1)(C); see supra, at 9, but it confused an
    agreement to arbitrate those statutory claims with a
    prospective waiver of the substantive right. The decision
    to resolve ADEA claims by way of arbitration instead of
    litigation does not waive the statutory right to be free from
    workplace age discrimination; it waives only the right to
    seek relief from a court in the first instance. See Gilmer,
    supra, at 26 (“ ‘[B]y agreeing to arbitrate a statutory claim,
    a party does not forgo the substantive rights afforded by
    the statute; it only submits to their resolution in an arbi
    tral, rather than a judicial, forum’ ” (quoting Mitsubishi
    Motors Corp., 473 U. S., at 628)). This “Court has been
    quite specific in holding that arbitration agreements can
                     Cite as: 556 U. S. ____ (2009)           17
    
                         Opinion of the Court
    
    be enforced under the FAA without contravening the
    policies of congressional enactments giving employees
    specific protection against discrimination prohibited by
    federal law.” Circuit City Stores, Inc., 532 U. S., at 123.
    The suggestion in Gardner-Denver that the decision to
    arbitrate statutory discrimination claims was tantamount
    to a substantive waiver of those rights, therefore, reveals a
    distorted understanding of the compromise made when an
    employee agrees to compulsory arbitration.
       In this respect, Gardner-Denver is a direct descendant of
    the Court’s decision in Wilko v. Swan, 
    346 U.S. 427
    (1953), which held that an agreement to arbitrate claims
    under the Securities Act of 1933 was unenforceable. See
    id., at 438. The Court subsequently overruled Wilko and,
    in so doing, characterized the decision as “pervaded by . . .
    ‘the old judicial hostility to arbitration.’ ” Rodriguez de
    Quijas v. Shearson/American Express, Inc., 
    490 U.S. 477
    ,
    480 (1989). The Court added: “To the extent that Wilko
    rested on suspicion of arbitration as a method of weaken
    ing the protections afforded in the substantive law to
    would-be complainants, it has fallen far out of step with
    our current strong endorsement of the federal statutes
    favoring this method of resolving disputes.” Id., at 481;
    see also Mitsubishi Motors Corp., supra, at 626–627 (“[W]e
    are well past the time when judicial suspicion of the desir
    ability of arbitration and of the competence of arbitral
    tribunals inhibited the development of arbitration as an
    alternative means of dispute resolution”). The timeworn
    “mistrust of the arbitral process” harbored by the Court in
    Gardner-Denver thus weighs against reliance on anything
    more than its core holding. Shearson/American Express
    Inc. v. McMahon, 
    482 U.S. 220
    , 231–232 (1987); see also
    Gilmer, 500 U. S., at 34, n. 5 (reiterating that Gardner-
    Denver’s view of arbitration “has been undermined by [the
    Court’s] recent arbitration decisions”). Indeed, in light of
    the “radical change, over two decades, in the Court’s re
    18                  14 PENN PLAZA LLC v. PYETT
    
                              Opinion of the Court
    
    ceptivity to arbitration,” Wright, 525 U. S., at 77, reliance
    on any judicial decision similarly littered with Wilko’s
    overt hostility to the enforcement of arbitration agree
    ments would be ill advised. 9
       Second, Gardner-Denver mistakenly suggested that
    certain features of arbitration made it a forum “well suited
    to the resolution of contractual disputes,” but “a compara
    tively inappropriate forum for the final resolution of rights
    created by Title VII.” 415 U. S., at 56. According to the
    
    ——————
      9 JUSTICE   STEVENS suggests that the Court is displacing its “earlier
    determination of the relevant provisions’ meaning” based on a “prefer
    ence for arbitration.” Post, at 2. But his criticism lacks any basis. We
    are not revisiting a settled issue or disregarding an earlier determina
    tion; the Court is simply deciding the question identified in Wright as
    unresolved. See supra, at 5–6; see also infra, at 23–24. And, contrary
    to JUSTICE STEVENS’ accusation, it is the Court’s fidelity to the ADEA’s
    text—not an alleged preference for arbitration—that dictates the
    answer to the question presented. As Gilmer explained, nothing in the
    text of Title VII or the ADEA precludes contractual arbitration, see
    supra, at 8–9, and JUSTICE STEVENS has never suggested otherwise.
    Rather, he has always contended that permitting the “compulsory
    arbitration” of employment discrimination claims conflicts with his
    perception of “the congressional purpose animating the ADEA.” Gil
    mer, 500 U. S., at 41 (STEVENS, J., dissenting); see also id., at 42
    (“Plainly, it would not comport with the congressional objectives behind
    a statute seeking to enforce civil rights protected by Title VII to allow
    the very forces that had practiced discrimination to contract away the
    right to enforce civil rights in the courts” (internal quotation marks
    omitted)). The Gilmer Court did not adopt JUSTICE STEVENS’ personal
    view of the purposes underlying the ADEA, for good reason: That view
    is not embodied within the statute’s text. Accordingly, it is not the
    statutory text that JUSTICE STEVENS has sought to vindicate—it is
    instead his own “preference” for mandatory judicial review, which he
    disguises as a search for congressional purpose. This Court is not
    empowered to incorporate such a preference into the text of a federal
    statute. See infra, at 20–21. It is for this reason, and not because of a
    “policy favoring arbitration,” see post, at 1, 3 (STEVENS, J., dissenting),
    that the Court overturned Wilko v. Swan, 
    346 U.S. 427
     (1953). And it
    is why we disavow the antiarbitration dicta of Gardner-Denver and its
    progeny today.
                     Cite as: 556 U. S. ____ (2009)          19
    
                         Opinion of the Court
    
    Court, the “factfinding process in arbitration” is “not
    equivalent to judicial factfinding” and the “informality of
    arbitral procedure . . . makes arbitration a less appropri
    ate forum for final resolution of Title VII issues than the
    federal courts.” Id., at 57, 58. The Court also questioned
    the competence of arbitrators to decide federal statutory
    claims. See id., at 57 (“[T]he specialized competence of
    arbitrators pertains primarily to the law of the shop, not
    the law of the land”); Barrentine, 450 U. S., at 743 (“Al
    though an arbitrator may be competent to resolve many
    preliminary factual questions, such as whether the em
    ployee ‘punched in’ when he said he did, he may lack
    competence to decide the ultimate legal issue whether an
    employee’s right to a minimum wage or to overtime pay
    under the statute has been violated”). In the Court’s view,
    “the resolution of statutory or constitutional issues is a
    primary responsibility of courts, and judicial construction
    has proved especially necessary with respect to Title VII,
    whose broad language frequently can be given meaning
    only by reference to public law concepts.” Gardner-
    Denver, supra, at 57; see also McDonald, 466 U. S., at 290
    (“An arbitrator may not . . . have the expertise required to
    resolve the complex legal questions that arise in §1983
    actions”).
       These misconceptions have been corrected. For exam
    ple, the Court has “recognized that arbitral tribunals are
    readily capable of handling the factual and legal complexi
    ties of antitrust claims, notwithstanding the absence of
    judicial instruction and supervision” and that “there is no
    reason to assume at the outset that arbitrators will not
    follow the law.” McMahon, supra, at 232; Mitsubishi
    Motors Corp., 473 U. S., at 634 (“We decline to indulge the
    presumption that the parties and arbitral body conducting
    a proceeding will be unable or unwilling to retain compe
    tent, conscientious, and impartial arbitrators”). An arbi
    trator’s capacity to resolve complex questions of fact and
    20                 14 PENN PLAZA LLC v. PYETT
    
                              Opinion of the Court
    
    law extends with equal force to discrimination claims
    brought under the ADEA. Moreover, the recognition that
    arbitration procedures are more streamlined than federal
    litigation is not a basis for finding the forum somehow
    inadequate; the relative informality of arbitration is one of
    the chief reasons that parties select arbitration. Parties
    “trad[e] the procedures and opportunity for review of the
    courtroom for the simplicity, informality, and expedition of
    arbitration.” Id., at 628. In any event, “[i]t is unlikely . . .
    that age discrimination claims require more extensive
    discovery than other claims that we have found to be
    arbitrable, such as RICO and antitrust claims.” Gilmer,
    500 U. S., at 31. At bottom, objections centered on the
    nature of arbitration do not offer a credible basis for dis
    crediting the choice of that forum to resolve statutory
    antidiscrimination claims.10
       Third, the Court in Gardner-Denver raised in a footnote
    a “further concern” regarding “the union’s exclusive con
    trol over the manner and extent to which an individual
    grievance is presented.” 415 U. S., at 58, n. 19. The Court
    suggested that in arbitration, as in the collective
    bargaining process, a union may subordinate the interests
    of an individual employee to the collective interests of all
    employees in the bargaining unit. Ibid.; see also McDon
    ald, supra, at 291 (“The union’s interests and those of the
    individual employee are not always identical or even
    compatible. As a result, the union may present the em
    ployee’s grievance less vigorously, or make different stra
    
    ——————
       10 Moreover, an arbitrator’s decision as to whether a unionized em
    
    ployee has been discriminated against on the basis of age in violation of
    the ADEA remains subject to judicial review under the FAA. 
    9 U.S. C
    .
    §10(a). “[A]lthough judicial scrutiny of arbitration awards necessarily
    is limited, such review is sufficient to ensure that arbitrators comply
    with the requirements of the statute.” Shearson/American Express Inc.
    v. McMahon, 
    482 U.S. 220
    , 232 (1987).
                       Cite as: 556 U. S. ____ (2009)             21
    
                           Opinion of the Court
    
    tegic choices, than would the employee”); see also Barren
    tine, supra, at 742; post, at 8, n. 4 (SOUTER, J., dissenting).
       We cannot rely on this judicial policy concern as a
    source of authority for introducing a qualification into the
    ADEA that is not found in its text. Absent a constitu
    tional barrier, “it is not for us to substitute our view of . . .
    policy for the legislation which has been passed by Con
    gress.” Florida Dept. of Revenue v. Piccadilly Cafeterias,
    Inc., 
    554 U.S.
    ___, ___ (2008) (slip op., at 18) (internal
    quotation marks omitted). Congress is fully equipped “to
    identify any category of claims as to which agreements to
    arbitrate will be held unenforceable.” Mitsubishi Motors
    Corp., supra, at 627. Until Congress amends the ADEA to
    meet the conflict-of-interest concern identified in the
    Gardner-Denver dicta, and seized on by respondents here,
    there is “no reason to color the lens through which the
    arbitration clause is read” simply because of an alleged
    conflict of interest between a union and its members.
    Mitsubishi Motors Corp., supra, at 628. This is a “battl[e]
    that should be fought among the political branches and
    the industry. Those parties should not seek to amend the
    statute by appeal to the Judicial Branch.” Barnhart v.
    Sigmon Coal Co., 
    534 U.S. 438
    , 462 (2002).
       The conflict-of-interest argument also proves too much.
    Labor unions certainly balance the economic interests of
    some employees against the needs of the larger work force
    as they negotiate collective-bargain agreements and im
    plement them on a daily basis. But this attribute of or
    ganized labor does not justify singling out an arbitration
    provision for disfavored treatment. This “principle of
    majority rule” to which respondents object is in fact the
    central premise of the NLRA. Emporium Capwell Co. v.
    Western Addition Community Organization, 
    420 U.S. 50
    ,
    62 (1975). “In establishing a regime of majority rule,
    Congress sought to secure to all members of the unit the
    benefits of their collective strength and bargaining power,
    22              14 PENN PLAZA LLC v. PYETT
    
                         Opinion of the Court
    
    in full awareness that the superior strength of some indi
    viduals or groups might be subordinated to the interest of
    the majority.” Ibid. (footnote omitted); see also Ford
    Motor Co. v. Huffman, 
    345 U.S. 330
    , 338 (1953) (“The
    complete satisfaction of all who are represented is hardly
    to be expected”); Pennsylvania R. Co. v. Rychlik, 
    352 U.S. 480
    , 498 (1957) (Frankfurter, J., concurring). It was Con
    gress’ verdict that the benefits of organized labor outweigh
    the sacrifice of individual liberty that this system neces
    sarily demands. Respondents’ argument that they were
    deprived of the right to pursue their ADEA claims in
    federal court by a labor union with a conflict of interest is
    therefore unsustainable; it amounts to a collateral attack
    on the NLRA.
       In any event, Congress has accounted for this conflict of
    interest in several ways. As indicated above, the NLRA
    has been interpreted to impose a “duty of fair representa
    tion” on labor unions, which a union breaches “when its
    conduct toward a member of the bargaining unit is arbi
    trary, discriminatory, or in bad faith.” Marquez v. Screen
    Actors, 
    525 U.S. 33
    , 44 (1998). This duty extends to “chal
    lenges leveled not only at a union’s contract administra
    tion and enforcement efforts but at its negotiation activi
    ties as well.” Beck, 487 U. S., at 743 (citation omitted).
    Thus, a union is subject to liability under the NLRA if it
    illegally discriminates against older workers in either the
    formation or governance of the collective-bargaining agree
    ment, such as by deciding not to pursue a grievance on
    behalf of one of its members for discriminatory reasons.
    See Vaca v. Sipes, 
    386 U.S. 171
    , 177 (1967) (describing
    the duty of fair representation as the “statutory obligation
    to serve the interests of all members without hostility or
    discrimination toward any, to exercise its discretion with
    complete good faith and honesty, and to avoid arbitrary
    conduct” (emphasis added)). Respondents in fact brought
    a fair representation suit against the Union based on its
                     Cite as: 556 U. S. ____ (2009)           23
    
                         Opinion of the Court
    
    withdrawal of support for their age-discrimination claims.
    See n. 2, supra. Given this avenue that Congress has
    made available to redress a union’s violation of its duty to
    its members, it is particularly inappropriate to ask this
    Court to impose an artificial limitation on the collective
    bargaining process.
       In addition, a union is subject to liability under the
    ADEA if the union itself discriminates against its mem
    bers on the basis of age. See 
    29 U.S. C
    . §623(d); see also 1
    B. Lindemann & P. Grossman, Employment Discrimina
    tion Law 1575–1581 (4th ed. 2007) (explaining that a labor
    union may be held jointly liable with an employer under
    federal antidiscrimination laws for discriminating in the
    formation of a collective-bargaining agreement, knowingly
    acquiescing in the employer’s discrimination, or inducing
    the employer to discriminate); cf. Goodman v. Lukens Steel
    Co., 
    482 U.S. 656
    , 669 (1987). Union members may also
    file age-discrimination claims with the EEOC and the
    National Labor Relations Board, which may then seek
    judicial intervention under this Court’s precedent. See
    EEOC v. Waffle House, Inc., 
    534 U.S. 279
    , 295–296
    (2002). In sum, Congress has provided remedies for the
    situation where a labor union is less than vigorous in
    defense of its members’ claims of discrimination under the
    ADEA.
                                III
      Finally, respondents offer a series of arguments con
    tending that the particular CBA at issue here does not
    clearly and unmistakably require them to arbitrate their
    ADEA claims. See Brief for Respondents 44–47. But
    respondents did not raise these contract-based arguments
    in the District Court or the Court of Appeals. To the
    contrary, respondents acknowledged on appeal that the
    CBA provision requiring arbitration of their federal anti
    discrimination statutory claims “is sufficiently explicit” in
    24              14 PENN PLAZA LLC v. PYETT
    
                         Opinion of the Court
    
    precluding their federal lawsuit. Brief for Plaintiffs-
    Appellees in No. 06–3047–cv(L) etc. (CA2), p. 9. In light of
    respondents’ litigating position, both lower courts assumed
    that the CBA’s arbitration clause clearly applied to re
    spondents and proceeded to decide the question left unre
    solved in Wright. We granted review of the question
    presented on that understanding.
       “Without cross-petitioning for certiorari, a prevailing
    party may, of course, ‘defend its judgment on any ground
    properly raised below whether or not that ground was
    relied upon, rejected, or even considered by the District
    Court or the Court of Appeals.’ ” Granfinanciera, S. A. v.
    Nordberg, 
    492 U.S. 33
    , 38–39 (1989) (quoting Washington
    v. Confederated Bands and Tribes of Yakima Nation, 
    439 U.S. 463
    , 476, n. 20 (1979)). But this Court will affirm on
    grounds that have “ ‘not been raised below . . . “only in
    exceptional cases.” ’ ” Nordberg, supra, at 39 (quoting
    Heckler v. Campbell, 
    461 U.S. 458
    , 468–469, n. 12 (1983)).
    This is not an “exceptional case.” As a result, we find that
    respondents’ alternative arguments for affirmance have
    been forfeited. See, e.g., Rita v. United States, 
    551 U.S. 338
    , 360 (2007); Sprietsma v. Mercury Marine, 
    537 U.S. 51
    , 56, n. 4 (2002). We will not resurrect them on respon
    dents’ behalf.
       Respondents also argue that the CBA operates as a
    substantive waiver of their ADEA rights because it not
    only precludes a federal lawsuit, but also allows the Union
    to block arbitration of these claims. Brief for Respondents
    28–30. Petitioners contest this characterization of the
    CBA, see Reply Brief for Petitioners 23–27, and offer
    record evidence suggesting that the Union has allowed
    respondents to continue with the arbitration even though
    the Union has declined to participate, see App. to Pet. for
    Cert. 42a. But not only does this question require resolu
    tion of contested factual allegations, it was not fully
    briefed to this or any court and is not fairly encompassed
                     Cite as: 556 U. S. ____ (2009)           25
    
                         Opinion of the Court
    
    within the question presented, see this Court’s Rule
    14.1(a). Thus, although a substantive waiver of federally
    protected civil rights will not be upheld, see Mitsubishi
    Motors Corp., 473 U. S., at 637, and n. 19; Gilmer, 500
    U. S., at 29, we are not positioned to resolve in the first
    instance whether the CBA allows the Union to prevent
    respondents from “effectively vindicating” their “federal
    statutory rights in the arbitral forum,” Green Tree Finan
    cial Corp.-Ala. v. Randolph, 
    531 U.S. 79
    , 90 (2000). Reso
    lution of this question at this juncture would be particu
    larly inappropriate in light of our hesitation to invalidate
    arbitration agreements on the basis of speculation. See
    id., at 91.
                                 IV
      We hold that a collective-bargaining agreement that
    clearly and unmistakably requires union members to
    arbitrate ADEA claims is enforceable as a matter of fed
    eral law. The judgment of the Court of Appeals is re
    versed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings
    consistent with this opinion.
                                              It is so ordered.
                     Cite as: 556 U. S. ____ (2009)           1
    
                        STEVENS, J., dissenting
    
    SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
                             _________________
    
                              No. 07–581
                             _________________
    
    
         14 PENN PLAZA LLC, ET AL., PETITIONERS v.
                   STEVEN PYETT ET AL.
     ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF 
    
               APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT
    
                            [April 1, 2009]
    
    
       JUSTICE STEVENS, dissenting.
       JUSTICE SOUTER’s dissenting opinion, which I join in
    full, explains why our decision in Alexander v. Gardner-
    Denver Co., 
    415 U.S. 36
     (1974), answers the question
    presented in this case. My concern regarding the Court’s
    subversion of precedent to the policy favoring arbitration
    prompts these additional remarks.
       Notwithstanding the absence of change in any relevant
    statutory provision, the Court has recently retreated from,
    and in some cases reversed, prior decisions based on its
    changed view of the merits of arbitration. Previously, the
    Court approached with caution questions involving a
    union’s waiver of an employee’s right to raise statutory
    claims in a federal judicial forum. After searching the text
    and purposes of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,
    the Court in Gardner-Denver held that a clause of a collec
    tive-bargaining agreement (CBA) requiring arbitration of
    discrimination claims could not waive an employee’s right
    to a judicial forum for statutory claims. See 415 U. S., at
    51. The Court’s decision rested on several features of the
    statute, including the individual nature of the rights it
    confers, the broad remedial powers it grants federal
    courts, and its expressed preference for overlapping reme
    dies. See id., at 44–48. The Court also noted the problem
    of entrusting a union with certain arbitration decisions
    2               14 PENN PLAZA LLC v. PYETT
    
                        STEVENS, J., dissenting
    
    given the potential conflict between the collective interest
    and the interests of an individual employee seeking to
    assert his rights. See id., at 58, n. 19. That concern later
    provided a basis for our decisions in Barrentine v. Arkan
    sas-Best Freight System, Inc., 
    450 U.S. 728
    , 742 (1981),
    and McDonald v. West Branch, 
    466 U.S. 284
    , 291 (1984),
    which similarly held that a CBA may not commit enforce
    ment of certain rights-creating statutes exclusively to a
    union-controlled arbitration process. Congress has taken
    no action signaling disagreement with those decisions.
       The statutes construed by the Court in the foregoing
    cases and in Wilko v. Swan, 
    346 U.S. 427
     (1953), have not
    since been amended in any relevant respect. But the
    Court has in a number of cases replaced our predecessors’
    statutory analysis with judicial reasoning espousing a
    policy favoring arbitration and thereby reached divergent
    results. I dissented in those cases to express concern that
    my colleagues were making policy choices not made by
    Congress. See Mitsubishi Motors Corp. v. Soler Chrysler-
    Plymouth, Inc., 
    473 U.S. 614
    , 640 (1985); Rodriguez de
    Quijas v. Shearson/American Express, Inc., 
    490 U.S. 477
    ,
    486 (1989); Gilmer v. Interstate/Johnson Lane Corp., 
    500 U.S. 20
    , 36 (1991); and Circuit City Stores, Inc. v. Adams,
    
    532 U.S. 105
    , 124 (2001).
       Today the majority’s preference for arbitration again
    leads it to disregard our precedent. Although it purports
    to ascertain the relationship between the Age Discrimina
    tion in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), the National
    Labor Relations Act, and the Federal Arbitration Act, the
    Court ignores our earlier determination of the relevant
    provisions’ meaning. The Court concludes that “[i]t was
    Congress’ verdict that the benefits of organized labor
    outweigh the sacrifice of individual liberty” that the sys
    tem of organized labor “necessarily demands,” even when
    the sacrifice demanded is a judicial forum for asserting an
    individual statutory right. Ante, at 22. But in Gard
                         Cite as: 556 U. S. ____ (2009)                    3
    
                            STEVENS, J., dissenting
    
    ner-Denver we determined that “Congress’ verdict” was
    otherwise when we held that Title VII does not permit a
    CBA to waive an employee’s right to a federal judicial
    forum. Because the purposes and relevant provisions of
    Title VII and the ADEA are not meaningfully distinguish
    able, it is only by reexamining the statutory questions
    resolved in Gardner-Denver through the lens of the policy
    favoring arbitration that the majority now reaches a dif
    ferent result.*
      Under the circumstances, I believe a passage from one
    of my earlier dissents merits repetition. The Court in
    Rodriguez de Quijas overruled our decision in Wilko and
    held that predispute agreements to arbitrate claims under
    the Securities Act of 1933 are enforceable. 490 U. S., at
    484; see also id., at 481 (noting Wilko’s reliance on “the
    outmoded presumption of disfavoring arbitration proceed
    ings”). I observed in dissent:
           “In the final analysis, a Justice’s vote in a case like
         this depends more on his or her views about the re
         spective lawmaking responsibilities of Congress and
         this Court than on conflicting policy interests. Judges
         who have confidence in their own ability to fashion
         public policy are less hesitant to change the law than
         those of us who are inclined to give wide latitude to
         the views of the voters’ representatives on nonconsti
    ——————
      * Referring to the potential conflict between individual and collective
    interests, the Court asserts that it “cannot rely on this judicial policy
    concern as a source of authority for introducing a qualification into the
    ADEA that is not found in its text.” Ante, at 21. That potential conflict
    of interests, however, was a basis for our decision in several pertinent
    cases, including Alexander v. Gardner-Denver Co., 
    415 U.S. 36
     (1974),
    and Gilmer v. Interstate/Johnson Lane Corp., 
    500 U.S. 20
    , 35 (1991),
    and in the intervening years Congress has not seen fit to correct that
    interpretation. The Court’s derision of that “policy concern” is particu
    larly disingenuous given its subversion of Gardner-Denver’s holding in
    the service of an extratextual policy favoring arbitration.
    4               14 PENN PLAZA LLC v. PYETT
    
                        STEVENS, J., dissenting
    
        tutional matters. Cf. Boyle v. United Technologies
        Corp., 
    487 U.S. 500
     (1988). As I pointed out years
        ago, Alberto-Culver Co. v. Scherk, 
    484 F.2d 611
     (CA7
        1973) (dissenting opinion), rev’d, 
    417 U.S. 506
     (1974),
        there are valid policy and textual arguments on both
        sides regarding the interrelation of federal securities
        and arbitration Acts. None of these arguments, how
        ever, carries sufficient weight to tip the balance be
        tween judicial and legislative authority and overturn
        an interpretation of an Act of Congress that has been
        settled for many years.” Rodriguez de Quijas, 490
        U. S., at 487 (footnote and citation omitted).
       As was true in Rodriguez de Quijas, there are competing
    arguments in this case regarding the interaction of the
    relevant statutory provisions. But the Court in Gardner-
    Denver considered these arguments, including “the federal
    policy favoring arbitration of labor disputes,” 415 U. S., at
    59, and held that Congress did not intend to permit the
    result petitioners seek. In the absence of an intervening
    amendment to the relevant statutory language, we are
    bound by that decision. It is for Congress, rather than this
    Court, to reassess the policy arguments favoring arbitra
    tion and revise the relevant provisions to reflect its views.
                     Cite as: 556 U. S. ____ (2009)            1
    
                         SOUTER, J., dissenting
    
    SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
                             _________________
    
                              No. 07–581
                             _________________
    
    
         14 PENN PLAZA LLC, ET AL., PETITIONERS v.
                   STEVEN PYETT ET AL.
     ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF 
    
               APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT
    
                            [April 1, 2009]
    
    
       JUSTICE SOUTER, with whom JUSTICE STEVENS, JUSTICE
    GINSBURG, and JUSTICE BREYER join, dissenting.
       The issue here is whether employees subject to a collec
    tive-bargaining agreement (CBA) providing for conclusive
    arbitration of all grievances, including claimed breaches of
    the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
    (ADEA), 
    29 U.S. C
    . §621 et seq., lose their statutory right
    to bring an ADEA claim in court, §626(c). Under the 35-
    year-old holding in Alexander v. Gardner-Denver Co., 
    415 U.S. 36
     (1974), they do not, and I would adhere to stare
    decisis and so hold today.
                                   I
      Like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 
    42 U.S. C
    .
    §2000e et seq., the ADEA is aimed at “ ‘the elimination of
    discrimination in the workplace,’ ” McKennon v. Nashville
    Banner Publishing Co., 
    513 U.S. 352
    , 358 (1995) (quoting
    Oscar Mayer & Co. v. Evans, 
    441 U.S. 750
    , 756 (1979)),
    and, again like Title VII, the ADEA “contains a vital ele
    ment . . . : It grants an injured employee a right of action
    to obtain the authorized relief,” 513 U. S., at 358. “Any
    person aggrieved” under the Act “may bring a civil action
    in any court of competent jurisdiction for legal or equitable
    relief,” 
    29 U.S. C
    . §626(c), thereby “not only redress[ing]
    his own injury but also vindicat[ing] the important con
    2                      14 PENN PLAZA LLC v. PYETT
    
                               SOUTER, J., dissenting
    
    gressional policy against discriminatory employment
    practices,” Gardner-Denver, supra, at 45.
       Gardner-Denver considered the effect of a CBA’s arbitra
    tion clause on an employee’s right to sue under Title VII.
    One of the employer’s arguments was that the CBA en
    tered into by the union had waived individual employees’
    statutory cause of action subject to a judicial remedy for
    discrimination in violation of Title VII. Although Title
    VII, like the ADEA, “does not speak expressly to the rela
    tionship between federal courts and the grievance
    arbitration machinery of collective-bargaining agree
    ments,” 415 U. S., at 47, we unanimously held that “the
    rights conferred” by Title VII (with no exception for the
    right to a judicial forum) cannot be waived as “part of the
    collective bargaining process,” id., at 51. We stressed the
    contrast between two categories of rights in labor and
    employment law. There were “statutory rights related to
    collective activity,” which “are conferred on employees
    collectively to foster the processes of bargaining[, which]
    properly may be exercised or relinquished by the union as
    collective-bargaining agent to obtain economic benefits for
    union members.” Ibid. But “Title VII . . . stands on
    plainly different [categorical] ground; it concerns not
    majoritarian processes, but an individual’s right to equal
    employment opportunities.” Ibid. Thus, as the Court
    previously realized, Gardner-Denver imposed a “seemingly
    absolute prohibition of union waiver of employees’ federal
    forum rights.” Wright v. Universal Maritime Service
    Corp., 
    525 U.S. 70
    , 80 (1998).1
       We supported the judgment with several other lines of
    complementary reasoning. First, we explained that anti
    
    ——————
        1 Gardner-Denver also contained some language seemingly prohibit
    ing even individual prospective waiver of federal forum rights, see 415
    U. S., at 51–52, an issue revisited in Gilmer v. Interstate/Johnson Lane
    Corp., 
    500 U.S. 20
     (1991), and not disputed here.
                      Cite as: 556 U. S. ____ (2009)            3
    
                         SOUTER, J., dissenting
    
    discrimination statutes “have long evinced a general
    intent to accord parallel or overlapping remedies against
    discrimination,” and Title VII’s statutory scheme carried
    “no suggestion . . . that a prior arbitral decision either
    forecloses an individual’s right to sue or divests federal
    courts of jurisdiction.” Gardner-Denver, 415 U. S., at 47.
    We accordingly concluded that “an individual does not
    forfeit his private cause of action if he first pursues his
    grievance to final arbitration under the nondiscrimination
    clause of a collective-bargaining agreement.” Id., at 49.
       Second, we rejected the District Court’s view that simply
    participating in the arbitration amounted to electing the
    arbitration remedy and waiving the plaintiff’s right to sue.
    We said that the arbitration agreement at issue covered
    only a contractual right under the CBA to be free from
    discrimination, not the “independent statutory rights
    accorded by Congress” in Title VII. Id., at 49–50. Third,
    we rebuffed the employer’s argument that federal courts
    should defer to arbitral rulings. We declined to make the
    “assumption that arbitral processes are commensurate
    with judicial processes,” id., at 56, and described arbitra
    tion as “a less appropriate forum for final resolution of
    Title VII issues than the federal courts,” id., at 58.
       Finally, we took note that “[i]n arbitration, as in the
    collective bargaining process, the interests of the individ
    ual employee may be subordinated to the collective inter
    ests of all employees in the bargaining unit,” ibid., n. 19, a
    result we deemed unacceptable when it came to Title VII
    claims. In sum, Gardner-Denver held that an individual’s
    statutory right of freedom from discrimination and access
    to court for enforcement were beyond a union’s power to
    waive.
       Our analysis of Title VII in Gardner-Denver is just as
    pertinent to the ADEA in this case. The “interpretation of
    Title VII . . . applies with equal force in the context of age
    discrimination, for the substantive provisions of the ADEA
    4               14 PENN PLAZA LLC v. PYETT
    
                        SOUTER, J., dissenting
    
    ‘were derived in haec verba from Title VII,’ ” and indeed
    neither petitioners nor the Court points to any relevant
    distinction between the two statutes. Trans World Air
    lines, Inc. v. Thurston, 
    469 U.S. 111
    , 121 (1985) (quoting
    Lorillard v. Pons, 
    434 U.S. 575
    , 584 (1978)); see also
    McKennon, 513 U. S., at 358 (“The ADEA and Title VII
    share common substantive features and also a common
    purpose”). Given the unquestionable applicability of the
    Gardner-Denver rule to this ADEA issue, the argument
    that its precedent be followed in this case of statutory
    interpretation is equally unquestionable. “Principles of
    stare decisis . . . demand respect for precedent whether
    judicial methods of interpretation change or stay the
    same. Were that not so, those principles would fail to
    achieve the legal stability that they seek and upon which
    the rule of law depends.” CBOCS West, Inc. v. Humphries,
    
    553 U.S.
    ___, ___ (2008) (slip op., at 14).           And
    “[c]onsiderations of stare decisis have special force” over
    an issue of statutory interpretation, which is unlike con
    stitutional interpretation owing to the capacity of Con
    gress to alter any reading we adopt simply by amending
    the statute. Patterson v. McLean Credit Union, 
    491 U.S. 164
    , 172–173 (1989). Once we have construed a statute,
    stability is the rule, and “we will not depart from [it]
    without some compelling justification.” Hilton v. South
    Carolina Public Railways Comm’n, 
    502 U.S. 197
    , 202
    (1991). There is no argument for abandoning precedent
    here, and Gardner-Denver controls.
                                   II
      The majority evades the precedent of Gardner-Denver as
    long as it can simply by ignoring it. The Court never
    mentions the case before concluding that the ADEA and
    the National Labor Relations Act, 
    29 U.S. C
    . §151 et seq.,
    “yiel[d] a straightforward answer to the question pre
    sented,” ante, at 10, that is, that unions can bargain away
                     Cite as: 556 U. S. ____ (2009)           5
    
                        SOUTER, J., dissenting
    
    individual rights to a federal forum for antidiscrimination
    claims. If this were a case of first impression, it would at
    least be possible to consider that conclusion, but the issue
    is settled and the time is too late by 35 years to make the
    bald assertion that “[n]othing in the law suggests a dis
    tinction between the status of arbitration agreements
    signed by an individual employee and those agreed to by a
    union representative.” Ante, at 9. In fact, we recently and
    unanimously said that the principle that “federal forum
    rights cannot be waived in union-negotiated CBAs even if
    they can be waived in individually executed contracts . . .
    assuredly finds support in” our case law, Wright, 525
    U. S., at 77, and every Court of Appeals save one has read
    our decisions as holding to this position, Air Line Pilots
    Assn., Int’l v. Northwest Airlines, Inc., 
    199 F.3d 477
    , 484
    (CADC 1999) (“We see a clear rule of law emerging from
    Gardner-Denver and Gilmer [v. Interstate/Johnson Lane
    Corp., 
    500 U.S. 20
     (1991)]: . . . an individual may prospec
    tively waive his own statutory right to a judicial forum,
    but his union may not prospectively waive that right for
    him. All of the circuits to have considered the meaning of
    Gardner-Denver after Gilmer, other than the Fourth, are
    in accord with this view”).
       Equally at odds with existing law is the majority’s
    statement that “[t]he decision to fashion a CBA to require
    arbitration of employment-discrimination claims is no
    different from the many other decisions made by parties in
    designing grievance machinery.” Ante, at 7. That is sim
    ply impossible to square with our conclusion in Gardner-
    Denver that “Title VII . . . stands on plainly different
    ground” from “statutory rights related to collective activ
    ity”: “it concerns not majoritarian processes, but an indi
    vidual’s right to equal employment opportunities.” 415
    U. S., at 51; see also Atchison, T. & S. F. R. Co. v. Buell,
    
    480 U.S. 557
    , 565 (1987) (“[N]otwithstanding the strong
    policies encouraging arbitration, ‘different considerations
    6               14 PENN PLAZA LLC v. PYETT
    
                        SOUTER, J., dissenting
    
    apply where the employee’s claim is based on rights aris
    ing out of a statute designed to provide minimum substan
    tive guarantees to individual workers’ ” (quoting Barren
    tine v. Arkansas-Best Freight System, Inc., 
    450 U.S. 728
    ,
    737 (1981))).
       When the majority does speak to Gardner-Denver, it
    misreads the case in claiming that it turned solely “on the
    narrow ground that the arbitration was not preclusive
    because the collective-bargaining agreement did not cover
    statutory claims.” Ante, at 12. That, however, was merely
    one of several reasons given in support of the decision, see
    Gardner-Denver, 415 U. S., at 47–59, and we raised it to
    explain why the District Court made a mistake in thinking
    that the employee lost his Title VII rights by electing to
    pursue the contractual arbitration remedy, see id., at 49–
    50. One need only read Gardner-Denver itself to know
    that it was not at all so narrowly reasoned, and we have
    noted already how later cases have made this abundantly
    clear. Barrentine v. Arkansas-Best Freight System, Inc.,
    450 U. S., at 737, provides further testimony:
        “Not all disputes between an employee and his em
        ployer are suited for binding resolution in accordance
        with the procedures established by collective bargain
        ing. While courts should defer to an arbitral decision
        where the employee’s claim is based on rights arising
        out of a collective-bargaining agreement, different
        considerations apply where the employee’s claim is
        based on rights arising out of a statute designed to
        provide minimum substantive guarantees to individ
        ual workers.
          “These considerations were the basis for our deci
        sion in [Gardner-Denver].”
    See also Gilmer, supra, at 35 (“An important concern” in
    Gardner-Denver “was the tension between collective rep
    resentation and individual statutory rights . . .”). Indeed,
                         Cite as: 556 U. S. ____ (2009)                    7
    
                             SOUTER, J., dissenting
    
    if the Court can read Gardner-Denver as resting on noth
    ing more than a contractual failure to reach as far as
    statutory claims, it must think the Court has been wreak
    ing havoc on the truth for years, since (as noted) we have
    unanimously described the case as raising a “seemingly
    absolute prohibition of union waiver of employees’ federal
    forum rights.” Wright, supra, at 80.2 Human ingenuity is
    not equal to the task of reconciling statements like this
    with the majority’s representation that Gardner-Denver
    held only that “the arbitration was not preclusive because
    the collective-bargaining agreement did not cover statu
    tory claims.” Ante, at 12.3
       Nor, finally, does the majority have any better chance of
    being rid of another of Gardner-Denver’s statements sup
    porting its rule of decision, set out and repeated in previ
    ous quotations: “in arbitration, as in the collective
    ——————
      2The majority seems inexplicably to think that the statutory right to
    
    a federal forum is not a right, or that Gardner-Denver failed to recog
    nize it because it is not “substantive.” Ante, at 7, n. 5. But Gardner-
    Denver forbade union waiver of employees’ federal forum rights in large
    part because of the importance of such rights and a fear that unions
    would too easily give them up to benefit the many at the expense of the
    few, a far less salient concern when only economic interests are at
    stake. See, e.g., Barrentine v. Arkansas-Best Freight System, Inc., 
    450 U.S. 728
    , 737 (1981).
      3 There is no comfort for the Court in making the one point on which
    
    we are in accord, that Gardner-Denver relied in part on what the
    majority describes as “broad dicta that was highly critical of the use of
    arbitration for the vindication of statutory antidiscrimination rights.”
    Ante, at 15–16. I agree that Gardner-Denver’s “ ‘mistrust of the arbitral
    process’ . . . has been undermined by our recent arbitration decisions,”
    Gilmer, supra, at 34, n. 5 (quoting Shearson/American Express Inc. v.
    McMahon, 
    482 U.S. 220
    , 231 (1987)), but if the statements are “dicta,”
    their obsolescence is as irrelevant to Gardner-Denver’s continued
    vitality as their currency was to the case’s holding when it came down;
    in Gardner-Denver itself we acknowledged “the federal policy favoring
    arbitration,” 415 U. S., at 46, n. 6, but nonetheless held that a union
    could not waive its members’ statutory right to a federal forum in a
    CBA.
    8                  14 PENN PLAZA LLC v. PYETT
    
                             SOUTER, J., dissenting
    
    bargaining process, a union may subordinate the interests
    of an individual employee to the collective interests of all
    employees in the bargaining unit,” ante, at 20 (citing 415
    U. S., at 58, n. 19), an unacceptable result when it comes
    to “an individual’s right to equal employment opportuni
    ties,” id., at 51. The majority tries to diminish this reason
    ing, and the previously stated holding it supported, by
    making the remarkable rejoinder that “[w]e cannot rely on
    this judicial policy concern as a source of authority for
    introducing a qualification into the ADEA that is not
    found in its text.” Ante, at 20.4 It is enough to recall that
    respondents are not seeking to “introduc[e] a qualification
    into” the law; they are justifiably relying on statutory
    interpretation precedent decades old, never overruled, and
    serially reaffirmed over the years. See, e.g., McDonald v.
    West Branch, 
    466 U.S. 284
    , 291 (1984); Barrentine, supra,
    at 742. With that precedent on the books, it makes no
    sense for the majority to claim that “judicial policy con
    
    ——————
       4 The majority says it would be “particularly inappropriate” to con
    
    sider Gardner-Denver’s conflict-of-interest rationale because “Congress
    has made available” another “avenue” to protect workers against union
    discrimination, namely, a duty of fair representation claim. Ante, at 22.
    This answer misunderstands the law, for unions may decline for a
    variety of reasons to pursue potentially meritorious discrimination
    claims without succumbing to a member’s suit for failure of fair repre
    sentation. See, e.g., Barrentine, 450 U. S., at 742 (“[E]ven if the em
    ployee’s claim were meritorious, his union might, without breaching its
    duty of fair representation, reasonably and in good faith decide not to
    support the claim vigorously in arbitration”). More importantly, we
    have rejected precisely this argument in the past, making this yet
    another occasion where the majority ignores precedent. See, e.g., ibid.;
    Gardner-Denver, supra, at 58, n. 19 (noting that a duty of fair represen
    tation claim would often “prove difficult to establish”). And we were
    wise to reject it. When the Court construes statutes to allow a union to
    eliminate a statutory right to sue in favor of arbitration in which the
    union cannot represent the employee because it agreed to the em
    ployer’s challenged action, it is not very consoling to add that the
    employee can sue the union for being unfair.
                      Cite as: 556 U. S. ____ (2009)            9
    
                         SOUTER, J., dissenting
    
    cern[s]” about unions sacrificing individual antidiscrimi
    nation rights should be left to Congress.
       For that matter, Congress has unsurprisingly under
    stood Gardner-Denver the way we have repeatedly ex
    plained it and has operated on the assumption that a CBA
    cannot waive employees’ rights to a judicial forum to
    enforce antidiscrimination statutes. See, e.g., H. R. Rep.
    No. 102–40, pt. 1, p. 97 (1991) (stating that, “consistent
    with the Supreme Court’s interpretation of Title VII in
    [Gardner-Denver],” “any agreement to submit disputed
    issues to arbitration . . . in the context of a collective bar
    gaining agreement . . . does not preclude the affected
    person from seeking relief under the enforcement provi
    sions of Title VII”). And Congress apparently does not
    share the Court’s demotion of Gardner-Denver’s holding to
    a suspect judicial policy concern: “Congress has had [over]
    30 years in which it could have corrected our decision . . .
    if it disagreed with it, and has chosen not to do so. We
    should accord weight to this continued acceptance of our
    earlier holding.” Hilton, 502 U. S., at 202; see also Patter
    son, 491 U. S., at 172–173.
                                  III
       On one level, the majority opinion may have little effect,
    for it explicitly reserves the question whether a CBA’s
    waiver of a judicial forum is enforceable when the union
    controls access to and presentation of employees’ claims in
    arbitration, ante, at 24–25, which “is usually the case,”
    McDonald, supra, at 291. But as a treatment of precedent
    in statutory interpretation, the majority’s opinion cannot
    be reconciled with the Gardner-Denver Court’s own view of
    its holding, repeated over the years and generally under
    stood, and I respectfully dissent.
    

Document Info

DocketNumber: 07-581

Citation Numbers: 556 U.S. 247, 129 S. Ct. 1456, 173 L. Ed. 2d 398, 2009 U.S. LEXIS 2497

Filed Date: 4/1/2009

Precedential Status: Precedential

Modified Date: 12/5/2017

Authorities (51)

United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co. , 200 U.S. 321 ( 1906 )

Ford Motor Co. v. Huffman , 345 U.S. 330 ( 1953 )

Wilko v. Swan , 346 U.S. 427 ( 1953 )

Pennsylvania R. Co. v. Rychlik , 352 U.S. 480 ( 1957 )

Textile Workers v. Lincoln Mills of Ala. , 353 U.S. 448 ( 1957 )

Steelworkers v. Warrior & Gulf Nav. Co. , 363 U.S. 574 ( 1960 )

Humphrey v. Moore , 375 U.S. 335 ( 1964 )

Vaca v. Sipes , 386 U.S. 171 ( 1967 )

US Bulk Carriers, Inc. v. Arguelles , 400 U.S. 351 ( 1971 )

Alexander v. Gardner-Denver Co. , 415 U.S. 36 ( 1974 )

NLRB v. Magnavox Co. , 415 U.S. 322 ( 1974 )

Scherk v. Alberto-Culver Co. , 417 U.S. 506 ( 1974 )

Emporium Capwell Co. v. Western Addition Community ... , 420 U.S. 50 ( 1975 )

Lorillard v. Pons , 434 U.S. 575 ( 1978 )

Washington v. Confederated Bands and Tribes of Yakima Nation , 439 U.S. 463 ( 1979 )

Oscar Mayer & Co. v. Evans , 441 U.S. 750 ( 1979 )

Barrentine v. Arkansas-Best Freight System, Inc. , 450 U.S. 728 ( 1981 )

Heckler v. Campbell , 461 U.S. 458 ( 1983 )

DelCostello v. Teamsters , 462 U.S. 151 ( 1983 )

McDonald v. West Branch , 466 U.S. 284 ( 1984 )

View All Authorities »

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