April 6, 2022

Judicial consideration of a party's CPLR Article 75 petition seeking a permanent stay of arbitration

Supreme Court denied Nassau County's CPLR Article 75 petition seeking a court order permanently staying an employee organization's demand to submit an employee's grievance to arbitration. Nassau County appealed. The Appellate Division reversed the Supreme Court's ruling, on the law, and granted the County's petition to permanently stay arbitration, denying the employee organization's motion to compel arbitration.

Citing Matter of City of Johnstown [Johnstown Police Benevolent Assn.], 99 NY2d 273, the Appellate Division explained that in determining whether a dispute between a public sector employer and an employee organization 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 prohibition against arbitration," the court must then examine the parties' collective bargaining agreement to determine "whether the parties in fact agreed to arbitrate the particular dispute."

In this instance, said the Appellate Division, the employee organization is essentially seeking a reclassification of a public position in the Classified Service.*

As Civil Service Law §22** mandates that the reclassification of a civil service position in the classified service can only be accomplished by the responsible municipal civil service commission, the Appellate Division opined that the "subject grievance is nonarbitrable.

Thus, said the Appellate Division, Supreme Court should have granted Nassau County's petition "to permanently stay arbitration," rejecting the employee organization's motion to compel arbitration.

* See Civil Service Law §§40-45.

** §22, in pertinent part, provides that "Any such new position shall be created or any such existing position reclassified only with the title approved and certified by the commission."

Click HERE to access the Appellate Decisions ruling posted on the Internet.

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