Administrative Leave Improper, Termination Proper

A police officer for the Town of Hooksett, Massachusetts, who was just off of probation, was involved in an off-duty motor vehicle accident. The Town initially placed the officer on unpaid administrative leave and, after an investigation, terminated him.
The officer’s labor organization, Local 633 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, challenged both the administrative leave and the termination in arbitration. An arbitrator found that the use of administrative leave was improper, but nonetheless upheld the termination.

With respect to the administrative leave, the Arbitrator ruled that “it is fundamentally unfair for an employer to place an employee on unpaid status pending resolution of the criminal proceedings and then when the criminal proceedings end in favor of the employee, for the employer to then not provide back pay for the period of time that the employee was out of work pending conclusion of the criminal proceedings.” The Arbitrator ordered the Town to make the officer whole for the time he spent on administrative leave.

The officer fared less well in the challenge to his discharge. The Arbitrator found that the evidence established that the officer attempted to “conceal and avoid responsibility” for the alcohol-related nature of his conduct, actions the Arbitrator found to be inconsistent with the truthfulness required of a law enforcement officer. For this reason, the Arbitrator upheld the officer’s discharge.

Town of Hooksett, LAIG 6803 (Altman, 2009).

This article appears in the March 2010 issue