Arbitrator Richard Boulanger has upheld a grievance filed on behalf of a police officer for the Town of Salisbury, Mass. who had been terminated for allegedly studying for the bar exam while on duty and for what the Town claimed was the falsification of his credentials in connection with an Academy application.
The former police chief testified that he had given the officer permission to study while on duty, but grievant maintained he had nevertheless taken vacation and compensatory time to study and had not studied on duty. The arbitrator noted the absence of any "physical evidence" that the officer had used duty time to study, and rejected the Town's reliance on a claimed reduction in productivity prior to the exam. The arbitrator noted that the Town's review of productivity had not factored in the reduction in productivity caused by the vacation and comp time.
The claimed falsification of credentials arose from the former Chief's designation of grievant as "Chief of Detectives", a title not part of the official structure. The arbitrator noted that grievant had questioned the appropriateness of the title, and also raised the issue with the Academy. Nevertheless, Grievant was assured that use of the title was appropriate. Rejecting the Town's justification the Arbitrator observed:
The Town places heavy reliance on the grievant's admission ...that he was not Chief of Detectives, and yet allowed Chief L'Esperance to designate him as Chief of Detectives on his Justification Letter and curriculum vitae.... Implicit in the Town's falsification allegation against the grievant is the notion that the grievant could have and should have stopped Chief L'Esperance from using the Chief of Detectives rank on his curriculum vitae. Based on the Police Department's paramilitary chain of command structure with Chief L'Esperance as the ranking officer, it is not likely that the grievant could have blocked Chief L'Esperance's use of the Chief of Detectives designation.
The arbitrator also rejected a claim that the officer had falsely claimed he had not previously been disciplined, noting that while he had been previously terminated as a Reserve Intermittent Police Officer, that termination had been reversed and no record of discipline existed in his official file.
Arbitrator Boulanger's award can be found here.