Fire Lieutenant Entitled To Compensation For Psychological Examination

The Town of Andover, Massachusetts Fire Department suspended a lieutenant for five days without pay. The Department also ordered the lieutenant to undergo a psychological fitness for duty examination. The lieutenant spent approximately 14 hours in the examination process.

The examination occurred while a grievance challenging the suspension was pending. The lieutenant turned in a request for compensation for the 14 hours spent associated with the examination. When the Town denied the grievance, the lieutenant’s labor organization, Local 1658 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, filed a second grievance on his behalf.

An arbitrator upheld the grievance seeking compensation for the psychological examination. The Arbitrator held that the Town “could not have it both ways”: Suspend the lieutenant from work and deprive him of pay but simultaneously direct him to perform services, i.e., undergo examination, during the suspension period.

The only wrinkle in the Arbitrator’s decision concerned the grievance challenging the lieutenant’s suspension, which was pending before a separate arbitrator. While the lieutenant would be entitled to pay if the second arbitrator turned down the grievance, the question arose as to what would happen if the Arbitrator overturned the suspension. In the mind of the Arbitrator, if the second arbitrator ordered that the lieutenant be made whole for the unpaid suspension, he already would have been paid for the 14 hours associated with the psychological examination, and would not be entitled to additional pay for that 14-hour period.

Town of Andover, Massachusetts, LAIG 6570 (Altman, 2007).

This article appears in the May 2008 issue