The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has recently held that grievances brought by employees who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) may be taken to court. The decision is Mudge v. United States, 308 F.3d. 1220 (Fed. Cir., October 17, 2002). In Mudge, the Federal Circuit overruled a line of prior Federal Circuit decisions precluding employees who are members of a bargaining unit from filing suits in court following the outcome of the processing of their grievances through administrative procedures.

The facts in Mudge concerned a federal employee who filed two grievances seeking back pay. The first concerned the FAA’s denial of his request for a cost-of-living differential and the second concerned the FAA’s alleged failure to retain his pay after he moved from one state to another. The union elected not to pursue the first issue, but it elected to pursue the second issue through its grievance procedure. However, the agency and union could not reach a resolution regarding the second issue, and the union elected to abandon the issue and not take it to arbitration.

Under prior Federal Circuit precedent, Mudge was left with no alternative forum to contest his claims. The prior case law was based on that court’s interpretation of the provisions of 5 U.S.C.