November 29, 2017

Arbitrator rules that qualified retirees and future retirees to have the same health insurance coverage as the employer's active employees


Arbitrator rules that qualified retirees and future retirees to have the same health insurance coverage as the employer's active employees
Monroe County Deputy Sheriffs' Assn., Inc. (Monroe County), 2017 NY Slip Op 08107, Appellate Division, Fourth Department

Supreme Court granted the Monroe County Deputy Sheriffs' Association's petition to confirm the award rendered in a labor arbitration directing Monroe County and the Monroe County Sheriff to provide qualified retirees and future retirees from the Monroe County Sheriff's Office with the same health insurance coverage - here coverage for the dependent child of a retiree until the child reaches the age of 26 years - that was being  provided to active employees.

The Appellate Division cited the federal Affordable Care Act, 42 USC §300gg-14 [a] and the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the parties as the authority for the arbitrator's award.

The court rejected the County's and the Sheriff's claim that the arbitrator exceeded his power in fashioning the award, explaining that "It is well settled that an arbitrator exceeds his or her power within the meaning of CPLR §7511(b)(1) (iii) where the arbitrator's award " clearly exceeds a specifically enumerated limitation on the arbitrator's power."

Further, said the Appellate Division, "To exclude a substantive issue from arbitration . . . generally requires specific enumeration in the arbitration clause itself of the subjects intended to be put beyond the arbitrator's reach." The court then concluded that in this instance "the arbitrator did not exceed a specifically enumerated limitation on his power."

The Appellate Division also rejected the County's and Sheriff's contention that the arbitrator's award was irrational.

Citing Matter of Lackawanna City School District [Lackawanna Teachers Federation], 237 AD2d 945, the court decided that the arbitrator's interpretation of the CBA was not completely irrational and thus his ruling was beyond its power to review because "An arbitration award must be upheld when the arbitrator offer[s] even a barely colorable justification for the outcome reached."

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

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