United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
Glen E. Conrad Chief United States District Judge
Wayne Portis, proceeding pro se, filed this action against
his former employer, Ruan Transportation Management Systems,
Inc. ("Ruan"), alleging that he was terminated in
retaliation for complaining about safety violations, in
violation of Virginia Code § 40. 1-51.2:1. On June 26,
2015, the court granted Ruan's motion to compel
arbitration and stayed the casepursuant to 9 U.S.C. § 3.
The parties subsequently participated in an arbitration
hearing conducted by Arbitrator Norman R. Harlan. On October
9, 2016, the arbitrator issued an arbitration award in favor
of Ruan. Portis has moved to vacate the arbitration award,
arid Ruan has filed a responsive request to confirm the
award. For the following reasons, the court will deny
Portis' motion and confirm the arbitration award.
began working as a truck driver for Ruan in October of 2007.
His employment was terminated on November 21, 2012. During
the course of his employment, Portis filed complaints
regarding alleged safety violations at Ruan's facility in
Salem, Virginia. Portis maintains that he was terminated as a
result of those complaints.
employment with Ruan was governed by a collective bargaining
agreement ("CBA") between Ruan and the
International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local Union No. 171
(the "Union"). Under the terms of the CBA, Ruan
could discipline or discharge an employee only "for just
cause." See Ray Aff. Ex. B. at 1, Dkt. No. 4-1. The CBA
also prohibited Ruan from discriminating against any employee
"in any terms or conditions of employment" for any
"prohibited basis of discrimination under applicable
state, federal, or local laws." Id. at 1. The
CBA further provided that employees could challenge any
"alleged violation" of the terms of the CBA through
the grievance and arbitration procedure set forth in Article
6 of that agreement. Id. at 3.
March 16, 2015, Portis filed the instant action alleging that
his employment was terminated in violation of Virginia Code
§ 40.1-51.2:1, which prohibits employers from
"discharging] or in any way discriminate[ing] against an
employee because the employee has filed a health or safety
complaint . . . ." On May 1, 2015, Ruan filed an amended
motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, to compel
arbitration of Portis' claims. The court granted
Ruan's I motion and stayed the case in favor of
arbitration on June 26, 2015. The court directed Portis to
file a grievance pursuant to the procedures set forth in the
CBA within 90 days.
filed a grievance with the Union on October 6, 2015. On July
14, 2016 and July 15, 2016, the arbitrator conducted an
evidentiary hearing regarding the grievance. Portis was
represented by counsel at the evidentiary hearing. During the
hearing, the arbitrator heard testimony from several
witnesses, including Portis and Richard Israel, who
supervised Portis at the time of his termination.
October 19, 2016, the arbitrator issued an award in favor of
Ruan. The arbitrator found that Ruan terminated Portis for
just cause as required by the CBA, and that it did not
retaliate against Portis for filing safety complaints.
November 14, 2016, Portis submitted a letter requesting to
proceed with his employment discrimination claim in this
court. The court construes the letter as a pro se motion to
vacate the arbitration award. In its response to the motion,
Ruan requests that the court confirm the award. The matter
has been fully briefed and is now ripe for disposition.
court's authority to review an arbitration award is
"substantially circumscribed." Patten v.
Signator Ins. Agency. Inc., 441 F.3d 230, 234 (4th Cir.
2006). "In fact, the scope of judicial review for an
arbitrator's decision is among the narrowest known at law
because to allow full scrutiny of such awards would frustrate
the purpose of having arbitration at all the quick resolution
of disputes and the avoidance of the expense and delay
associated with litigation." Three S Delaware. Inc.
v. DataQuick Info. Sys., Inc., 492 F.3d 520, 527 (4th
Cir. 2007) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).
"In order for a reviewing court to vacate an arbitration
award, the moving party must sustain the heavy burden of
showing one of the grounds specified in the Federal
Arbitration Act (the "FAA") or one of certain
limited common law grounds." MCI Constructors. LLC
v. City of Greensboro, 610 F.3d 849, 857 (4th Cir.
provides four grounds on which an arbitration award may be
vacated: "(1) where the award was procured by
corruption, fraud, or undue means; (2) where there was
evident partiality or corruption in the arbitrators, or
either of them; (3) where the arbitrators were guilty of
misconduct . . .; or (4) where the arbitrators exceeded their
powers, or so imperfectly executed them that a mutual, final,
and definite award upon the subject matter submitted was not
made." 9 U.S.C. § 10(a). In addition to the grounds
specified in the FAA, "permissible common law grounds
for vacating [an arbitration] award 'include those
circumstances where an award fails to draw its essence from
the contract, or the award evidences a manifest disregard for
the law.'" MCI Constructors, 610 F.3d at
857 (quoting Patten, 441 F.3d at 234). Under Fourth
Circuit precedent, "a manifest disregard of the law is
established only where the arbitrator understands and
correctly states the law, but proceeds to disregard the
same." Patten, 441 F.3d at 235 (citation and
internal quotation marks omitted).
case, Portis does not argue or offer any evidence to reflect
that there was evident partiality, corruption, or misconduct
on the part of the arbitrator. Nor does he argue that the
arbitrator exceeded his powers or manifestly disregarded
controlling law. Instead, Portis contends that Richard Israel
"lied" about an encounter that he had with Portis
on November 17, 2012, prior to Portis' termination, and
that the arbitrator should not have credited Israel's
testimony over his own. Pl's Mot. to Vacate at 2, Dkt.
court construes Portis' arguments regarding the alleged
perjury of an arbitration witness to suggest that the
arbitration award was procured by fraud. See 9 U.S.C. §
10(a)(1). In order for an award to be vacated on this ground,
"a party who alleges that an arbitration award was
procured by fraud must demonstrate: (1) that the fraud
occurred by clear and convincing evidence; (2) that the fraud
was not discoverable by due diligence before or during the
arbitration hearing; and (3) [that] the fraud materially
related to an issue in the arbitration." Barahona v.
Dillard's Inc., 376 F.App'x 395, 397 (5th Cir.
2010). As the party seeking to vacate the arbitration award,
Portis bears the burden of proving all three prongs. See
Id. at 398 & n.2 (declining to reach two of the