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July 31, 2017

Determining if a dispute between a public sector employer and employee is arbitrable


Determining if a dispute between a public sector employer and employee is arbitrable 
Board of Educ. of the Newburgh Enlarged City Sch. Dist. v Newburgh Teachers' Assn., 2017 NY Slip Op 05817, Appellate Division, Second Department

In a CPLR Article 75 action addressing a demand by the Newburgh Teachers' Association [Association], the Association appealed a Supreme Court order granting the Newburgh city School District's Board of Education's [Board] petition to permanently stay arbitration of the matter demanded by the Association and denied the Association's cross motion to compel arbitration.

Citing Matter of County of Chautauqua v Civil Serv. Empls. Assn., Local 1000, AFSCME, AFL-CIO, County of Chautauqua Unit 6300, Chautauqua County Local 807, 8 NY3d 513, the Appellate Division explained that in determining "whether a dispute between a public sector employer and employee is arbitrable, a court must first determine whether 'there is any statutory, constitutional or public policy prohibition against arbitration of the grievance.'"

If, said the Appellate Division, there is no " statutory, constitutional or public policy prohibition" prohibition against arbitration, the court must examine the parties' collective bargaining agreement to determine "whether the parties in fact agreed to arbitrate the particular dispute.

The Association had "demanded arbitration" to compel the Board to implement certain measures regarding the discipline and suspension of students.

The Appellate Division succinctly ruled that as various provisions of New York's Education Law "grants discretion to boards of education to implement disciplinary rules and regulations in schools," the Association's demand was nonarbitrable "on public policy grounds." Accordingly the question of whether the parties had agreed to arbitrate such a dispute was never reached by the court.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

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