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December 1, 2017

Challenging an arbitration award


Challenging an arbitration award
2017 NY Slip Op 08382, Appellate Division, Second Department

A county employee [Petitioner] was served with disciplinary charges alleging misconduct for accessing unauthorized websites for non-County use and acting in an immoral manner during working hours, including viewing inappropriate material of a sexually explicit nature. Following a disciplinary hearing on these charges, the arbitrator found Petitioner guilty of misconduct and imposed a penalty of termination. Petitioner then initiated a CPLR Article 75 proceeding seeking to vacate the arbitration award.

Supreme Court dismissed the proceeding and confirmed the award. The Appellate Division sustained the lower courts ruling, explaining that judicial review of an arbitrator's award is extremely limited and the party seeking to vacate an arbitration award "bears a heavy burden[,]' and must establish a ground for vacatur by clear and convincing evidence."

Article 75 of the CPLR provides that an arbitration award may be vacated if the court finds that the rights of a party were prejudiced by (1) corruption, fraud, or misconduct in procuring the award; (2) partiality of an arbitrator; (3) the arbitrator exceeded his or her power; or (4) the arbitrator failed to follow the procedures mandated by Article 75.

In addition, in Matter of New York City Tr. Auth. v Transport Workers' Union of Am., Local 100, AFL-CIO, 6 NY3d 332, the Court of Appeals held that an arbitration award may be vacated by the court if it finds that arbitrator's award violates a strong public policy, is irrational or clearly exceeds a specifically enumerated limitation on the arbitrator's power.

Finding that in Petitioner's case the arbitrator's determination was supported by evidence in the record, that nothing in the record indicates that the arbitrator exceeded a specifically enumerated limitation on the arbitrator's powers and that the arbitrator's decision was not irrational, the Appellate Division dismissed Petitioner's challenge to the Supreme Court's decision.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2017/2017_08382.htm

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A Reasonable Disciplinary Penalty Under the Circumstances - A 442-page e-book focusing on determining an appropriate disciplinary penalty to be imposed on an employee in the public service in instances where the employee has been found guilty of misconduct or incompetence. Now available in two formats - as a large, paperback print edition and as an e-book. For more information click on

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