Arbitrator’s Decision To Reinstate Officer Survives ‘Public Policy’ Argument

With increasing frequency, employers are lodging public policy challenges to arbitration decisions that reinstate terminated public safety employees. The basic argument in such cases, which often involve terminated police officers, is that there is a public policy exception to the notion that arbitration decisions are final and binding. The exception provides a basis to vacate an arbitration award that violates a “well-defined and dominant” public policy. A recent Minnesota…

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No Violation Of Public Policy To Reinstate Officer Guilty Of Poor Performance

The City of Crystal Lake, Illinois terminated officer Adam Munaretto for failing to reasonably investigate a motorist involved in a rear-end collision for driving under the influence and then allowing the motorist to leave the scene while impaired. After being released by Munaretto with two minor citations, the motorist was almost immediately stopped by another officer for suspicion of driving under the influence. Unlike Munaretto, the second officer administered…

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New Cases Illustrate Limits Of ‘Public Policy’ Doctrine

“Final and binding” arbitration is usually considered to be just that – a final resolution of whatever issue is sent to an arbitrator. As long as the decisions of labor arbitrators “draw their essence” from a collective bargaining agreement and are not the product of fraud, those decisions will be upheld even if a court disagrees with either the factual findings or legal conclusions of the arbitrator. One exception…

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The Limitations Of The ‘Public Policy’ Exception To Arbitration Awards

Most collective bargaining agreements contain grievance procedures that end with arbitration. In the parlance of many contracts, arbitration is “final and binding,” meaning that a party cannot appeal an arbitrator’s decision even if the arbitrator made legal or factual mistakes. There is a limited exception to the finality of arbitration awards, known as the “public policy” exception. Under the exception, an arbitrator’s opinion will be overturned if the decision…

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‘Public Policy Exception’ To Arbitration Finality Alive And Well In Illinois

The most commonly-litigated exception to the principle that arbitration decisions are final and binding is known as the “public policy” exception. In general, the public policy exception only arises when a party clearly shows enforcement of the contract, as interpreted by the arbitrator. In a case involving Decatur, Illinois Police Officer Jeremy Welker, the Illinois Court of Appeals gave a broad reading to the public policy exception. Welker was…

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Public Policy Does Not Prohibit Reinstatement Of Dishonest Police Officer

In July 2005, an Alaska state trooper attended an out-of-state motorcycle certification program. Upon arrival at the program, the trooper was informed of a rule against horseplay such as performing “burnouts” with a motorcycle. It was later discovered that a student had performed a burnout with one of the motorcycles. At first, when he was asked individually and during a group meeting as to who performed the burnout, the…

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