Type in a key word or two concerning the subject or issue in which you are interested in the box at the upper left and tap enter to access any relevant material posted.


Monday, June 27, 2016

A two-prong test is used by courts to determine if a provision in a collective bargaining agreement is subject to arbitration


A two-prong test is used by courts to determine if a provision in a collective bargaining agreement is subject to arbitration
Matter of Cortland County (CSEA, Inc., Local 1000 AFSCME, AFL-CIO), 2016 NY Slip Op 04481, Appellate Division, Third Department

Lawrence Jackson, a correction officer employed by the Cortland County Sheriff’s Department [County], was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis* in his left foot and was subsequently awarded workers' compensation benefits. However, his application for disability benefits pursuant to General Municipal Law §207-c was denied, which administrative determination was affirmed by the Appellate Division [see Matter of Jackson v Barber, 133 AD3d 958].

In August 2013, Jackson submitted a physician's note stating that, as a result of his foot condition, he was restricted from working more than 40 hours and 35 minutes per week. Although the County initially accommodated Jackson's limitation, in September 2013, the County notified Jackson that his "availability to work mandatory overtime [wa]s an essential function of [his] position" and that his "limited availability pose[d] a safety issue . . . [that] could result in an understaffed shift," it could not accommodate his work "restriction on a continuing basis" and was therefore placing him on family and medical leave until such time as he was "able to complete all essential functions of [his] position."

Jackson’s employee organization for collective bargaining, CSEA, Inc., Local 1000 [CSEA], submitted a grievance on behalf of Jackson alleging the County had violated the collective bargaining agreement [CBA] between the parties by refusing to accommodate Jackson's work restriction. The County denied the grievance. In response to CSEA’s demand for arbitration the County filed a petition in Supreme Court pursuant to §7503(b) of the CPLR seeking a permanent stay of arbitration.

Concluding that the dispute was arbitrable, Supreme Court denied the County’s application for the permanent stay of arbitration. The County appealed and the Appellate Division sustained the lower court’s ruling.

The Appellate Division explained that "The court's role in reviewing applications to stay arbitration is . . . a limited one" and a two-prong test is used to determine if the dispute arbitrable.

The court initially considers if the subject of the claim sought to be arbitrated is the type authorized by Civil Service Law Article 14 [the Taylor Law] and is not barred by constitutional, statutory or public policy considerations, the first test. 

If the demand for arbitration meets this test, the court will then consider the grievance and arbitration provisions set out in the collective bargaining agreement. Where the arbitration clause in a collective bargaining agreement is broad, said the Appellate Division, courts "should merely determine whether there is a reasonable relationship between the subject matter of the dispute and the general subject matter of the CBA."

Not discerning any constitutional, statutory or public policy considerations that prohibit arbitration of the dispute, the Appellate Division considered the second prong of the test. Noting that the CBA defines an arbitrable grievance as "any alleged violation of the terms and conditions of employment,” as defined in the CBA, including any misinterpretation or misapplication of the agreement or past practices, the court noted that Article 5 of the CBA addresses employee work schedules, including certain required overtime, and includes a section on "Light Duty Assignments." **

As the CBA specifically addresses overtime and contemplates the availability of light-duty assignments, the Appellate Division found that there was a reasonable relationship between the subject matter of the dispute and the general subject matter of the CBA for the purpose of resolving the matter by arbitration. 

Recognizing that certain substantive clauses in the CBA might not support the grievances, the court said that  issue was irrelevant with respect to the threshold question of arbitrability, as the arbitrator, and not the court, is to resolve any uncertainty concerning the substantive rights and obligations of the parties."

Accordingly, the Appellate Division ruled that Supreme Court had properly determined that the dispute should be submitted to arbitration.

* A pain in the heel resulting from the inflammation the plantar, a thick band of tissue in the heel.

** Additionally, said the court, “Article 20 of the CBA discusses overtime and sets forth the procedure for assigning mandatory overtime shifts.”

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2016/2016_04481.htm

Handbooks focusing on State and Municipal Public Personnel Law continue to be available for purchase via the links provided below:

The Discipline Book at http://thedisciplinebook.blogspot.com/

A Reasonable Penalty Under The Circumstances at http://nypplarchives.blogspot.com

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

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

Caution:

Subsequent court and administrative rulings, or changes to laws, rules and regulations may have modified or clarified or vacated or reversed the decisions summarized here. Accordingly, these summaries should be Shepardized® or otherwise checked to make certain that the most recent information is being considered by the reader.

THE MATERIAL ON THIS WEBSITE IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY. CHANGES IN LAWS, RULES, REGULATIONS AND NEW COURT AND ADMINISTRATIVE DECISIONS MAY AFFECT THE ACCURACY OF THE INFORMATION PROVIDED IN THIS LAWBLOG. THE MATERIAL PRESENTED IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE AND THE USE OF ANY MATERIAL POSTED ON THIS WEBSITE DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP.

Consistent with the Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations, the material in this blog is presented with the understanding that the publisher is not providing legal advice to the reader and in the event legal or other expert assistance is needed, the reader should seek such advice from a competent professional.

Items published in NYPPL may not be used for commercial purposes without prior written permission to copy and distribute such material. Send your request via e-mail to publications@nycap.rr.com

Readers may share material posted in NYPPL with others provided attribution to NYPPL is given.

Copyright© 1987 - 2017 by the Public Employment Law Press.



___________________



N.B. From time to time a political ad or endorsement may appear in the sidebar of this Blog. NYPPL does not have any control over such posting.

_____________________

.