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October 17, 2013

School board’s “final ruling” in a grievance reviewable by the courts absent the union’s voluntary waiver of its right to seek judicial review


School board’s “final ruling” in a grievance reviewable by the courts absent the union’s voluntary waiver of its right to seek judicial review
Aloi v. West Babylon Union Free School District, 81 AD2d 874

The Appellate Division ruled that the School Board's reliance on its regulation that provided that its decision in a grievance “shall be final” was misplaced and the regulation in question did not preclude judicial review.

A grievance was submitted by the West Babylon Non-Teaching Unit of the Civil Service Employees Association pursuant to the school board's regulations. The board of education ultimately denied the grievance.

When CSEA appealed, the board of education contended that the courts could not review its “final determination,” pointing out that its regulation provided that "The report of the Board of Education shall be final."

The Appellate Division disagreed, explaining “The regulation cannot preclude judicial review in the absence of a voluntary surrender of the union's right to resort to the courts to enforce the collective bargaining agreement,” citing Matter of Riverdale Fabrics Corp., 306 NY 288.

Further, the court said that the fact that the union submitted the dispute pursuant to the board of education's grievance mechanism did not constitute a waiver of the union's rights to appeal an adverse ruling to the courts. Otherwise, were the union not to avail itself of the administrative remedy provided by the board it might be precluded from seeking judicial review under the “failure exhaustion of administrative remedies” doctrine.

The Appellate Division viewed the school board’s regulation as self-serving  and ruled that it could not preclude CSEA’s further appeal to the Courts.
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