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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Firefighter Not Entitled to Arbitration for Termination

The City of Berwyn terminated a firefighter for making threats to other employees and supervisors. The officer filed a lawsuit against the City claiming that his due process rights were violated because he was not allowed to arbitrate his grievance.  The trial court and appellate courts upheld the termination, finding no due process violations.  Woods v. City of Berwyn, 2014 IL App (1st) 133450.  

Under the applicable collective bargaining agreement, an employee had the right to choose to have his or her disciplinary action resolved (1) through arbitration according to the grievance/arbitration procedure set out in the agreement or (2) by hearing conducted by the Board of Fire & Police Commissioners.  In this case, although the firefighter had filed a grievance with the union, the union chose not to refer the grievance to arbitration.  As a result, Woods' disciplinary action went to the Board, who conducted a hearing and terminated the firefighter.  

The court determined that the City's termination procedures complied with the collective bargaining agreement.  Woods had no right to arbitration because the union did not refer the action as required by the agreement.  In addition, the court held that the evidence presented at the hearing (that Woods threatened to kill his superiors) justified the Board's decision to terminate him.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf


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