Arbitration Can Be An Alternative To Civil Service Appeals

In August 2004, the City of Dayton, Ohio Police Department brought internal charges against Officer Dennis Quatman for failing to be a resident of the City of Dayton. Quatman was also charged with misusing a City vehicle and abusing sick leave. After a disciplinary hearing, Quatman was found guilty of all charges and was fired.

Quatman did not file an appeal to the Dayton Civil Service Board. However, his labor organization, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), filed a grievance challenging his termination. The collective bargaining agreement between the FOP and the City provides that “in the event that an employee believes any suspension, demotion or discharge is without just cause, such action may be subject to the grievance arbitration procedure or an appeal to the Civil Service Board, at the employee’s option.”

The City took the position that the grievance was not substantively arbitrable because residency terminations could only be heard by the Civil Service Board. The dispute over the arbitrability of the grievance wound up in the Ohio Court of Appeals.

In the Court of Appeals, the City based its arguments on a Charter provision providing that “any employee of any department in the City who is suspended, reduced in rank, or dismissed [because of a residency violation] may appeal to the Civil Service Board. The judgment of the Board shall be final.”

The Court did not find a conflict between the Charter provision and the collective bargaining agreement. The Court reasoned that “there is nothing in the Charter requiring that residency terminations, or termination for any other cause, for that matter, can only be appealed to the Civil Service Board. The Charter merely provides that any employee’s dismissal may be appealed to the Civil Service Board. The collective bargaining agreement does not conflict with this provision; it, too, provides that the employee may appeal a dismissal to the Civil Service Board, but it adds the additional option of arbitration.”

City of Dayton v. Fraternal Order of Police, 2006 WL 2105864 (OhioApp. 2006).

This article appears in the September 2006 issue