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Sunday, August 07, 2011

Public policy voids arbitrator’s award

Public policy voids arbitrator’s award
City of New York v. Uniformed Firefighters Assn, 87 AD2d 255, [Revs'd on other grounds, 58 NY2d 957]

When New York City announced it would establish positions of (civilian) Fire Inspection Inspectors, the Firefighters Union objected.

An arbitrator ruled that assigning civilians to perform inspection and fire prevention duties previously performed by uniformed firefighters violated the Taylor Law contract between the City and the Firefighters Union and ordered the City not to make any further such assignments.

The City appealed the arbitrator’s award in favor of the Union to the Court (see Article 75, Civil Practice Law and Rules which sets forth limited grounds for challenging the award of an arbitrator). The Appellate Division ruled that “if an (arbitrator’s) award, such as the award in this case, contravenes the statutory mandate, it violates public policy and the court is required to set it aside....”

The decision noted that the City’s Administrative Code provided that the City determine the “methods, means and personnel by which government operations are to be conducted.” The opinion implies that where the arbitrator fashions an award which violates the mandate of a statute, the arbitrator has exceeded his authority and the award will not be enforced by the court. 

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