Greenfield v. Schmidt Baking Co., Inc

In Greenfield v. Schmidt Baking Co., Inc., 199 W. Va. 447, 485 S.E.2d 391 (1997), the defendant employer, Schmidt Baking, responded to a grievance filed by the Union regarding eligibility of part-time employees for sick pay benefits under the collective bargaining agreement by posting a letter near the time clock in the plant. The letter discussed the abuse of sick pay and specifically named the plaintiff, Greenfield, among others, as a recipient of sick pay on a habitual basis whom the company would investigate for the presence of abuse/fraud. Greenfield subsequently sued Schmidt Baking for defamation/libel, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Schmidt thereafter filed a motion for summary judgment asserting that Greenfield's claims implicated the collective bargaining agreement and were, therefore, preempted by 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act. The circuit court granted the motion after deciding that the issues to be decided required interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement. The Court reversed. After discussing at length the specific elements of the torts alleged by Greenfield, we concluded that a determination of the presence or absence of these elements did not require an interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement.