If a CBA sets out the rights of an individual to arbitrate an employer’s disciplinary decision, those rights may not be expanded by another article
Fashion Inst. of Tech. v United Coll. Employees of Fashion Inst. of Tech., Local 3457, Am. Fedn. of Teachers, 2010 NY Slip Op 05329, 2010 NY Slip Op 05329, Appellate Division, First Department
The relevant collective bargaining agreement [CBA] between the Union and the Institute had separate and distinct Articles that were relevant in this action: one governing general "Grievances" and a second setting out a “Disciplinary Procedure."
The "Disciplinary Procedure" Article provided that "[n]o employee may be disciplined except for just cause." It further provided that a two-person disciplinary committee, consisting of one Institute representative and one Union representative would issue a recommendation as the disposition of the matter to FIT's President. Upon receiving the recommendation of the disciplinary committee the President "may take disciplinary action," which "may include, but is not limited to, reprimand . . ., suspen[sion] with or without pay, or termination."
The CAB further provided that "[i]f the President's decision is to terminate a part-time employee … the College and Union will refer the case to an outside arbitrator for final and binding determination." The Appellate Division then noted that although “the determination to terminate a part-time employee was expressly made subject to arbitration,” there was no similar provision making the President’s determination to suspend a part-time employee subject to arbitration.
When the Institute’s President suspended a “part-time employee,” Les Katz, without pay the Union filed a CBA grievance with FIT challenging the suspension and demanded the President’s decision be submitted to arbitration before the AAA. The Union alleged that the school had "[i]mproperly disciplined Les Katz in violation of the CBA." The Institute filed a petition pursuant to CPLR 7503(b) in Supreme Court seeking an order permanently staying the arbitration.
Supreme Court granted the stay and the Appellate Division sustained the lower court’s ruling that the Union’s claim was not subject to arbitration. The court explained that Katz was “cited, disciplined and suspended in accordance with the disciplinary procedures set forth” in the CBA’s Disciplinary Procedure Article, which “clearly govern in this case.” Significantly, the Disciplinary Procedure did not provide for arbitration of the President’s determination to suspend a part-time employee.
Addressing the union’s argument that the issue of whether Katz was properly suspended is subject to arbitration pursuant to the general Grievance Article, the Appellate Division said that “The reading of the contract proposed by the union, which would graft the procedures in [the ’Grievance’ provision Article] onto the disciplinary procedures in [the ‘Disciplinary Procedure’ Article] would render superfluous the provisions of [the Disciplinary Procedure Article that provided] for a limited right of arbitration for part-time employees only if they are terminated.
The decision is posted on the Internet at: http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2010/2010_05329.htm
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