Arguments On The Merits Are For An Arbitrator, Not A Court

Pedro Sarmiento is a 25-year employee of the Laredo, Texas Police Department. When the Police Chief refused to fill open vacancies in the rank of captain, Sarmiento filed a grievance under the collective bargaining agreement between the City and the Laredo Police Officers Association.

An arbitrator ruled in favor of Sarmiento, finding that the City had violated the collective bargaining agreement by failing to promote Sarmiento to captain. The City then challenged the Arbitrator’s decision in court, arguing that the Arbitrator had no authority to compel Sarmiento’s promotion.

The City argued that Sarmiento did not have “standing” to participate in the lawsuit because “he has no right to promotion to a position that ‘does not’ and ‘never has’’ existed.” The Court demurred, reasoning that “whether the position exists or existed is a factual determination that goes to the merits of the arbitration dispute. And, indeed, the Arbitrator addressed this argument by the City and found that a new captain’s position was created on May 2, 2009, when the new organizational chart went into effect. Thus, the Arbitrator found that the Chief was contractually bound to have promoted Sarmiento to the position of Captain of Directive Patrol.”

City of Laredo v. Sarmiento, 2011 WL 5869705 (Tex. App.2011).