Employer Violates Contract When It Prevents Officers From Working On Their Birthdays

The Municipality of Murrysville, Pennsylvania Police Department directed officers scheduled to work on their birthdays to remain at home. The measure was a cost-savings endeavor, designed to relieve the Municipality from the obligation to compensate officers at the premium holiday rate on their birthdays.

The Department’s labor organization challenged the decision through the grievance procedure. An arbitrator upheld the grievance.

The Arbitrator reasoned that by directing officers to remain off duty on their birthdays, the employer inappropriately minimized the leave benefits in the collective bargaining agreement. Under the contract, an employee who works on his or her birthday receives triple time or the right to elect two additional leave days. The Arbitrator found that these provisions were a component of the officer’s regular compensation, and that officers were entitled to reasonably rely on the fact that 70 percent of the time they would have the ability to obtain the additional compensation by virtue of working on their birthdays.

Municipality of Murrysville, Pennsylvania, LAIG 6262 (Dean, 2005).

This article appears in the September 2005 issue