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  Public Employee Press

PEP May 2006
Table of Contents
  La Voz

Public Employee Press

Union wins key issue vs. DOE
Ruling protects members’ rights in discipline cases

DC 37 didn’t win the battle but it won a war over members’ rights in disciplinary hearings that do not result in discharge.

Although an impartial arbitration panel ruled that the Dept. of Education had good and sufficient reason to discipline the union member, it also resolved the broader issue of standard of review in disciplinary cases in favor of the union.

The grievance went to Step 3, and was later heard by a Step 4 panel, which examined the standard of review question. DOE argued that the principal’s decision to discipline the member could only be overturned if the union could show that it was arbitrary and capricious or based on bias.

DC37 countered that the proper standard for reversing the disciplinary action is whether in the judgment of the arbitrator there was good and sufficient reason to discipline the employee.

DC 37 attorney Steven Sykes argued that in the union’s 30-year history with DOE, while the contract lacks specific language, both parties have consistently applied the good and sufficient reason standard when the union has grieved discipline less than discharge.

He cited cases dating back to 1975 as precedents.

In defense of the arbitrary and capricious standard, DOE attorneys cited cases that involved employees covered by the Teachers’ Union contract — which is not DC 37’s contract and was therefore irrelevant.

The grievance panel found that in matters involving DC 37 members, the appropriate standard of review, consistent with past practice, is whether there is good and sufficient reason to discipline the employee.

“This was a very important decision for DC 37,” said Sykes. “The arbitrator affirmed the union’s position that discipline less than termination is subject to the same standard as termination cases.”

— Diane S. Williams



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