Arbitrator’s Decision Insisting On Technical Details For Grievance Overturned On Public Policy Grounds

The District of Columbia and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) are parties to a collective bargaining agreement governing the rank-and-file members of the Metropolitan Police Department. The FOP filed a grievance challenging what it believed to be an inappropriate delay in paying overtime for police officers who worked a detail providing security and escort services during the cleanup and detoxification of the World War I-era hazardous waste site…

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Grievance Procedure Must Be Exhausted Prior To Bringing Lawsuit

A memorandum of agreement between the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association and the City of Buffalo, New York provides that “in the event the minimum for a rank position falls below the stated minimum, the vacancy shall be filled within 45 days of the created vacancy.” When the Association attempted to enforce the staffing agreement through a lawsuit, the City challenged the Association’s failure to exhaust the grievance procedure in…

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A Day Late, A Lawsuit Lost

Christopher Noonan, a fire captain, was terminated from his employment with the City of Ann Arbor, Michigan Fire Department on December 27, 2007. Noonan was alleged to have threatened subordinates and to have had a gun in his personal vehicle on the Department’s premises in violation of a Departmental rule. Noonan challenged his termination through the grievance procedure in the City’s contract with the Ann Arbor Fire Fighters Association….

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Holiday Pay Not Limited By Length Of Shift

The collective bargaining agreement between the City of Key West, Florida and the Florida Police Benevolent Association (PBA) contains a clause calling for premium pay for police officers assigned to work on holidays. The contract language refers to holiday “shifts.” For 16 years, the City’s payroll department had limited the amount of holiday premium pay to eight hours per day, without regard to the length of the shift worked…

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Complaints About Bosses Not Constitutionally Protected

Two San Bernardino, California Police Department sergeants filed a federal court lawsuit alleging they had been retaliated against for submitting complaints about their supervisors through the chain of command. The complaints, which took the form of a formal grievance, alleged that supervisors were autocratic, controlling, manipulative, created a hostile work environment, embarrassed the Department, and generally impaired the functioning of the Department. A deeply divided federal Ninth Circuit Court…

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Employer Required To Develop Policy To Retain Labor Relations E-Mails

Part of the obligation to collectively bargain in good faith is the obligation to share information about grievances. When the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild sought information about a disciplinary grievance, the City refused the Guild’s request, citing, among other things, the fact that it believed that the materials were privileged. An administrative law judge (ALJ) for the Washington Public Employment Relations Commission ruled against the City, finding that the…

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Grievance Procedure Expires With Contract

Catherine Whiting was a corrections officer with the Ottawa County, Michigan Sheriff’s Department. On February 15, 2006, while Whiting was off duty, she learned that her husband had engaged in an extramarital affair with a female acquaintance, Holly Gerbers. Upon learning of the affair, Whiting telephoned Gerbers and threatened to kill her. The following day, the Department suspended Whiting pending an internal investigation into her conduct. Eventually, the Sheriff…

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Timeliness Defects Must Be Raised Early In Grievance Procedure

The Madison Township, Michigan Fire Fighters Union filed a grievance challenging the Fire Department’s decision to hire a temporary worker to replace a bargaining unit paramedic who was using extended sick leave. The Township contended that the grievance was not arbitrable because it had not been filed in a timely manner. An arbitrator rejected the Township’s “timeliness” argument. Citing well-established arbitration rules, the Arbitrator ruled that employers must raise…

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Supreme Court Changes Legal Landscape On Scope Of Arbitration

Since the Supreme Court’s 1974 decision in Alexander v. Gardner-Denver Co., it has been believed that a collective bargaining agreement could not force employees to waive the right to proceed in court in lawsuits under federal statutes. Though the following 35 years of Supreme Court decisions on arbitration increasingly gave broader scope to arbitration clauses, the Court had stopped short of allowing the compulsory arbitration of a statutory claim….

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Timeliness Objections Must Be Raised Early In Grievance Procedure

The Fire Department of the Town of Stoughton, Massachusetts contracted with a laundry service to wash not only various linens and towels used by firefighters, but also firefighters’ uniforms. After receiving a number of complaints from firefighters about the quality of the service, the Town determined that the contractor was not separating uniforms from the towels and linens before washing them, resulting in potential contamination. The Town terminated the…

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Retroactivity Language Applies To Grievance Procedure

Kitsap County, Washington and the Kitsap County Deputy Sheriff’s Guild have a history of not negotiating new contracts before an existing contract expires. The parties’ contract in effect between January 1, 2003 and December 31, 2005 was not negotiated until August 22, 2005. The 2006-2007 contract was not negotiated until July 24, 2006. During the period of time between the expiration of the previous collective bargaining agreement and when…

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No Right To Refuse To Arbitrate Retiree Healthcare Grievance

The contract between the City of Niagara Falls, New York and the Niagara Falls Police Club contains a clause dealing with retirement benefits. When the Club filed a grievance challenging decisions made by the City concerning retiree healthcare benefits, the City refused to arbitrate the grievance, claiming that the Club had no right to represent retirees. The Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court upheld an order forcing…

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Arbitrator, Not Courts, Decides Who Should Be Grievant

The Hartsdale, New York Fire District is party to a collective bargaining agreement with Local 1586 of the International Association of Fire Fighters. When Local 1586 attempted to process a grievance to arbitration, the District filed a lawsuit to permanently enjoin the arbitration. The District’s theory was that under the collective bargaining agreement, only individual employees and not the union could refer a grievance to arbitration. An appeals court…

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