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A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a ruling that favored Gulfstream Aerospace in a dispute with its employees. Judge Frank M. Hull, joined by Judge Stanley F. Birch Jr. and visiting 8th Circuit Senior Judge Pasco M. Bowman II affirmed Monday a federal trial court’s decision to grant summary judgment to Gulfstream. The case concerned 10-page letters sent to thousands of Gulfstream factory workers asking employees to limit their rights to sue the company and instead take complaints to arbitration. The letters did not ask the employees to sign anything but stated that coming to work the next day would suffice as agreement. The case was filed in 2003 on behalf of 200 Gulfstream workers who claimed the company violated federal labor laws in deciding that employees could not receive overtime pay. Caley v. Gulfstream, No. 04-14462. The lead plaintiffs worked at Gulfstream’s Savannah, Ga., plant. Gulfstream, a unit of General Dynamics Corp., is the world’s largest maker of private jets. Gulfstream moved to compel arbitration and dismiss the workers’ complaint. The company said that workers gave up their rights to class action suits under the 2002 dispute resolution policy, or DRP, that was mailed to employees’ homes. The policy told employees that if they didn’t like the changes, they were free to leave the company, but continued employment constituted an agreement with Gulfstream. “Although there is some bargaining disparity here, as often in the employment context, the plaintiffs have failed to show that the DRP and its making is so one-sided as to be unconscionable,” Hull wrote in the opinion issued Monday. The terms of the agreement, she added, “are not oppressive.” Staff reporter Scott Simonson contributed to this article.

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