Disciplinary Transfer Held Subject To Grievance Procedure

Sergeant Charles Jenkins works for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department as a property crimes supervisor. In February 2011, after investigating an internal complaint against him, the Department issued Jenkins a written reprimand for violating its harassment and discrimination policy. The reprimand, which Jenkins signed, did not mention a transfer to a new assignment. Nonetheless, the Department transferred Jenkins on the same day he signed the reprimand. The transfer notice, which was labeled as an “administrative transfer,” stated the following:

“As a result of it being determined that you engaged in inappropriate verbal communications with subordinates of a nature that violates the Department’s harassment and discrimination policies, I am recommending that you be transferred out of your current assignment. My recommendation is to transfer you to a patrol squad as it provides a more structured environment and closer supervision by your Lieutenant.”

Due to the transfer, Jenkins lost his position as a property crimes supervisor, a favorable work schedule and assignment differential pay of 8%. Jenkins filed a formal grievance regarding his transfer under the collective bargaining agreement between the Department and the Police Managers and Supervisors Association. The Department refused to accept the grievance, and the dispute ended up before the Nevada Supreme Court.

Based on its review of the CBA, the Court found that “when the Department uses a transfer for disciplinary purposes – with the intention of punishing the transferee – [the contract’s discipline and grievance procedure clauses] apply and require the Department to allow the grievance process. Thus, using administrative transfers for disciplinary purposes would constitute a unilateral change of provisions required to be bargained. We conclude the Department’s widespread use of administrative transfers for disciplinary purposes without engaging in the bargaining process violated the state bargaining law.”

The Department argued that the management rights section of the state bargaining statute empowered it to use an administrative transfer for disciplinary purposes. The Court disagreed, noting that it had “never construed this provision to empower a local government employer to unilaterally override a mandatorily bargained-for disciplinary procedure contained in a collective bargaining agreement, even when the statutory provision is expressly included in that agreement. Here, the CBA unequivocally provides the procedures for disciplinary disputes, which includes an employee’s right to file a grievance. We will not construe the state statute to empower a local government employer to unilaterally rewrite a provision that was mandatorily bargained for.”

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police v. Jenkins, 2015 WL 6508429 (Nev. 2015).