Seeking to bar arbitration based on "public policy considerations
One of the issues in this appeal heard by the Appellate Division concerned
's claim that the arbitration of a grievance as demanded by the Sullivan County Employees Association violated of "public policy considerations" and should be stayed. Sullivan County
The Association had demanded arbitration when the County denied a grievance based on the Association's claim that its action modifying a Taylor Law contract with another collective bargaining unit had triggered the "parity clause" in its agreement. The "parity clause" provided that if another bargaining unit negotiated a salary increase, those increases would be operative for employees covered by the agreement.
The Appellate Division said that to invoke a violation of public policy as justification for staying arbitration, "the violation must amount to the equivalent of a gross illegality." Although
claimed that "parity clauses" were illegal, the Appellate Division noted that "such clauses are not per se invalid but require a case-by-case analysis." Sullivan County
The Courts indicated that the matter was not yet ripe for judicial consideration, commenting that if "the arbitrator's interpretation of the agreement may offend public policy, such a potential does not mandate a stay of arbitration." Rather, said the Court, if that turns out to be the case, the remedy is vacatur (reversal) of the award.