Friday, October 11, 2013

New York court apply a “two-step test" when determining if a grievance alleging a violation of the collective bargaining agreement may be submitted to arbitration


New York courts apply a “two-step test" when determining if a grievance alleging a violation of the collective bargaining agreement may be submitted to arbitration
Matter of Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda Union Free Sch. Dist. (Ken-Ton School. Employees. Assn.), 2013 NY Slip Op 06490, Appellate Division, Fourth Department

The Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda UFSD [District] filed a petition pursuant to Article 75 of the CPLR seeing a permanent stay of arbitration with respect to a grievance filed challenging the District’s terminating an employee. Supreme Court dismissed the District’s petition and the Appellate Division affirmed the lower court’s ruling.

The Appellate Division explained that in determining if a grievance is subject to arbitration under the relevant collective bargaining agreement (CBA), the court applies the “two-step analysis set forth in Matter of Acting Supt. of Schs. of Liverpool Cent. Sch. Dist. (United Liverpool Faculty Assn), 42 NY2d 509”

Step 1 – The court must determine whether there is any statutory, constitutional or public policy prohibition against arbitrating the grievance.

Step 2 – In the event the court determines that there is no such bar to proceeding to arbitration, it then considers whether the CBA demonstrates that the parties agreed to refer this type of dispute to arbitration.

The CBA in this instance, said the Appellate Division, set out a broad arbitration clause and thus the court’s inquiry is limited to determining “whether there is a reasonable relationship between the subject matter of the dispute and the general subject matter of the CBA"

The grievance filed with the District questioned whether the District had followed "the procedures mandated by the CBA in terminating the employee in question.” The Appellate Division concluded that Supreme Court “properly determined that the parties had the authority to agree to arbitrate this grievance, and that they in fact agreed to do so.”

As to the District’s argument that the provisions of the CBA “violate public policy and the Civil Service Law,” an issue raised for the first time on appeal, the Appellate Division elected to consider the claim. It ruled that that Civil Service Law §75 "may be supplemented, modified or replaced by agreements negotiated between the state and an employee organization pursuant to article fourteen of this chapter," citing Civil Service Law §76[4].

§76[4], in pertinent part, provides: “… section seventy-five or seventy-six of this … may be supplemented, modified or replaced by agreements negotiated between the state and an employee organization pursuant to article fourteen of this chapter …”

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
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Handbooks focusing on State and Municipal Public Personnel Law continue to be available for purchase via the links provided below:

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Challenging Adverse Personnel Decisions at http://nypplarchives.blogspot.com

The Disability Benefits E-book: at http://section207.blogspot.com/

Layoff, Preferred Lists at http://nylayoff.blogspot.com/

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