Thursday, November 17, 2016

The standards used by the courts in reviewing arbitration awards


The standards used by the courts in reviewing arbitration awards
Noel v Bianco, 2016 NY Slip Op 07398, Appellate Division, First Department

Supreme Court denied the petition filed by Lesly Noel seeking a court order vacating an arbitration award terminating his employment with the New York City Transit Authority for misconduct. The Appellate Division unanimously affirmed the lower court’s ruling.

The decision indicates that the arbitration award was promulgated pursuant to a “voluntarily-entered collective bargaining agreement” and thus was not subject to a heightened level of judicial scrutiny. Citing New York City Tr. Auth. v Transport Workers' Union of Am., Local 100, AFL-CIO, 6 NY3d 332, the Appellate Division said that in such situations “courts are not permitted to review an arbitrator's findings of fact, including credibility determinations.”

In contrast, where the parties are forced to engage in compulsory arbitration, as was the situation in Hamilton v Alley, 137 AD3d 1564,the court ruled that judicial review under CPLR Article 75 requires that the "award be in accord with due process and supported by adequate evidence in the record."

In Bernstein [Norwich City School Dist. Bd. Of Education], 282 AD2d 70, which involved a challenge to an Education Law §3020-a disciplinary proceeding, the Appellate Division concluded that the applicable standard for review of the arbitration award in Bernstein's case was whether there was substantial evidence in the record to establish the employee's guilt with respect to the disciplinary charges levied against him.

The Bernstein court also pointed to CPLR Section 7803 as authority to adopt a "substantial evidence" standard in appeals from a §3020-a determination. In the words of the court: “[W]e must determine "whether there is a rational basis in [the whole record] for the findings of fact supporting the [Hearing Panel's recommendation]."

The Noel decision is posted on the Internet at:

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/

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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