Sergeant Receives Seniority Credit For Time On Disability Retirement

An individual was hired by the City of Medford, Massachusetts Police Department as a patrol officer in 1977, and was promoted to sergeant in April 1984.

The sergeant incurred an on-the-job injury, and received a disability retirement in March 1990. On September 30, 2001, the sergeant’s disability had resolved to the point where he returned to work. A dispute immediately arose over whether the sergeant should receive seniority credit for the time he was in disability retirement status.

An arbitrator sided with the Medford Police Superior Officers Association, the sergeant’s labor organization, and held that the sergeant was entitled to seniority credit for the time off on disability. The Arbitrator pointed to the contract’s definition of seniority, finding that the contract specifically provided that seniority would be dated from the time of an individual’s “permanent appointment” to his or her present rank. Since the sergeant had been permanently promoted in April 1984, the Arbitrator reasoned, his seniority should date from that time.

The Arbitrator also found important that, unlike the City’s other contracts, there was no language in the Association’s agreement providing that seniority accrual would not continue during periods of leave of absence.

City of Medford, Massachusetts and Medford Police Superior Officers Association, LAIG 6251 (Cochran, 2005).

This article appears in the September 2005 issue