Monday, October 19, 2015

Union did not waive its right to arbitrate its salary contract grievance as it was not a party in a federal FLSA action commenced by unit member



Union did not waive its right to arbitrate its salary contract grievance as it was not a party in a federal FLSA action commenced by unit member  
Matter of Monroe County (Monroe County Law Enforcement Assn.), 2015 NY Slip Op 07381, Appellate Division, Fourth Department

A dispute arose concerning the compensation owed to certain Monroe County Sheriff’s Department Sergeants and Deputies for their required attendance at roll call briefings. In 2010 13 current or former Sergeants and Deputies commenced an action against the County and the Department [Employer] in the United States District Court* for the Western District of New York alleging that the County and the Department [herein after "Employer"] violated the Fair Labor Standards Act [[FLSA] 29 USC §201 et seq.] in compensating them for attending or conducting roll call briefings.

In 2013 the Monroe County Law Enforcement Association filed a grievance alleging that Employer had violated the CBA provisions governing compensation for roll call briefings and filed a grievance on behalf of a number of members in the negotiating unit employed in the Court Security Bureau as Deputy Sheriff Court Security Sergeant and Deputy Sheriff Court Security Deputy. Employer denied the grievance through all of the steps of the contract grievance procedure set out in the CBA. The the Association then demanded that the grievance be submitted to arbitration.

Employer then filed a petition asking Supreme Court to stay the arbitration. Supreme Court denied Employer’s petition and granted the Association's cross petition to compel arbitration.

Employer appealed the Supreme Court’s determination but the Appellate Division sustained the lower court’s decision. The court said that notwithstanding Employer’s argument to the contrary, the Association did not waive its right to arbitrate its grievance under the CBA notwithstanding the fact that certain of its members commenced an action in federal court under the FLSA as individual employees.  

The Appellate Division explained that "[T]he claims asserted in [the federal] action are entirely separate from those raised in the arbitration proceeding, and distinct remedies are sought in each."

Further, said the court, the Association was not a party to the federal action, which seeks enforcement of the employee rights as individual employees protected by the FLSA rather than as Association members subject to the CBA. In addition, noted the court, arbitration is not barred by res judicata inasmuch as there is no identity of parties or issues.

* Crespo v County of Monroe, New York, 2015 WL 2406112 [WD NY] The Appellate Division noted that there has been no final determination in this federal action.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

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