The collective bargaining agreement between Warren County, Ohio and the Warren County Deputy Sheriff’s Benevolent Association calls for overtime to be assigned to the officer signing up for the slot who has the least amount of accumulated overtime hours in the year. When Officer Mark Hoffman signed up for an overtime job on March 22, 2004, he qualified as having the least seniority among those desiring to do the work. When he was not assigned the overtime, the Association referred the matter to arbitration.
The main issue in arbitration was the remedy appropriate when a supervisor improperly assigns overtime. Like most collective bargaining agreements, the one in Warren County did not specify a remedy for improperly-denied overtime.
The County argued that a monetary remedy was inappropriate, and that Hoffman should simply be offered another overtime assignment. The Arbitrator was ultimately unconvinced by the County’s argument.
The Arbitrator held that “personal convenience is a huge issue to all of us; an individual may for myriad legitimate private reasons choose to work on one occasion but decline to do so on another. Because an employee has been improperly passed over and may consequently be lowest in accumulated overtime hours in any given point in time, he may later be forced to work overtime he does not want. The fact that mandatory overtime may not have occurred during Hoffman’s period of vulnerability to it resulting from the contractual violation imposed upon him is no reason to choose a remedy that leaves the door open to such a deplorable result in the future.”
All in all, the Arbitrator concluded that the appropriate remedy was to pay Hoffman as if he had worked the overtime. The Arbitrator commented that such a remedy would not cause the employer to “suffer any massive economic hardship,” and that “the supposed potential for abuse and decline in morale and harmonious labor relations posed by the employer amount to no more than ghost phenomena if the employer strictly abides by the contract as it must.”
Warren County, Ohio Sheriff, 120 LA 925 (Duff, 2005).
This article appears in the June 2005 issue