Monday, March 20, 2017

Failing to prove that the union breached its duty of fair representation in challenging an arbitration award is fatal to employee's appeal



Failing to prove that the union breached its duty of fair representation in challenging an arbitration award is fatal to employee's appeal
Henvill v Metropolitan Transp. Auth., 2017 NY Slip Op 01785, Appellate Division, First Department

Winston Henvill, an employee of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority [MTA],  filed a CPLR Article 75 petition seeking to vacate the arbitration award resulted in the terminated his employment with MTA upon his being found guilty of misconduct. 

Supreme Court dismissed Henvill's petition and the Appellate Division unanimously affirmed the lower court's ruling.

The Appellate Division initially explained that Henvill "failed to adequately plead a claim for breach of the duty of fair representation against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police Benevolent Association [PBA], his collective bargaining unit's representative, finding that none of the allegations in Henvill's complaint demonstrated that PBA's conduct, in representing Henvill at the arbitration hearing which resulted in his termination, was arbitrary, discriminatory or conducted in bad faith.

Thus, said the court, as Henvill failed to state an unfair representation claim against PBA, his claim against his employer, MTA, alleging a breach of the relevant collective bargaining agreement, must also fail.

The Appellate Division also noted that Henvill had failed to demonstrate the existence of any of the statutory grounds for vacating the arbitrator's award set out in Article 75 such as fraud, bias or the failure to follow proper procedure.  

In addition, the court rejected what it characterized as Henvill's major argument: the arbitrator's fact-finding was irrational and required vacatur in view of "the well-settled principle that courts in considering a petition to vacate a voluntary arbitration may not review the arbitrator's findings of fact."

Finally, said the court, "we perceive no reason to overturn the imposed penalty of termination."

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2017/2017_01785.htm
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