Mr. Fett brought a race discrimination suit on behalf of African-American plaintiffs Donald C. Tisdale and Larron V. Hughes against their local union because its hiring hall would not refer them to employers for sprinkler fitter jobs.
Mr. Fett filed the case in Wayne County Circuit Court, and the union, hoping to avoid the more favorable juries in the state courts, removed the case to the Federal District Court in Detroit. The District Court agreed with the local union that the case was properly removed to federal court. The District Court reasoned that a federal court should decide the case because the state race discrimination claim implicated federal labor law, and federal courts are more expert in deciding federal claims.
Mr. Fett appealed the District Court decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the District Court and sent the case back to Wayne County Circuit Court.
The case is significant because it affirmed the right of discrimination claimants to have their state law claims heard in state court rather than in the more conservative federal courts. Because of this decision, employers have much fewer opportunities to remove cases to federal court based on the allegation that the state law claim implicated federal labor law.
Once the case was remanded to Wayne County Circuit Court, it settled for an amount which cannot be disclosed because of a confidentiality agreement.