Officer Entitled To Health Care Opt-Out Payment Even Though She Married Other Officer

A police officer with the Township of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania married a fellow officer. She elected to drop her health insurance with the Township and become a dependent on her husband’s plan.

The collective bargaining between the Wilkes-Barre Township Police Benevolent Association and the Township called for an incentive payment to employees who opted out of health care coverage. When the Township refused to pay the officer incentive pay, the Association referred the matter to arbitration.

An arbitrator upheld the grievance. The Arbitrator concluded that the maintenance of benefits clause in the collective bargaining agreement covered health care incentive payments, and that the past practice had no exception for officers who opted out of health care coverage because they married a fellow officer.

The Arbitrator also commented that “it must be recognized that each of these officers could have married outside of the bargaining unit. In such a situation, the Township would be obligated to provide coverage for the officer and dependents, at a higher cost than it is incurring in the instant matter.”

Township of Wilkes-Barre, LAIG 6409 (Skonier, 2006).

This article appears in the January 2007 issue