Sunday, July 16, 2017

Choke holds, use of force, public policy and arbitration

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has rejected an effort by the City of Boston to set aside an arbitrator's award reinstating a police officer who had been dismissed for allegedly using excessive force and then lying about it during an internal investigation.  City of Boston v. Boston Police Patrolmen's Association

On March 16, 2009, Officers David Williams and Diep Nguyen were dispatched to a the scene of a minor accident. While the officers were dealing with the situation, Michael O'Brien, one of the individuals involved, began filming the interaction and allegedly refused instructions to get out of the street. Officer Nguyen decided to arrest O'Brien who struggled and resisted efforts to handcuff him. Officer Williams came to the aid of his partner and "tackled" O'Brien, forcing  him to the ground using what he described as a "semi-bear hold." Officer Nguyen described the method used as a "choke hold." O'Brien was charged with resisting arrest, disturbing the peace and assault and battery on a police officer.

On March 19, 2009 O'Brien filed a complaint with the internal affairs division. The complaint was assigned to an officer but little investigation was done and, in May, O'Brien's counsel withdrew the complaint. O'Brien filed a lawsuit in September alleging unreasonable use of force, unconstitutional arrest and assault and battery. The following day counsel filed another internal affairs complaint. In January of 2010, O'Brien's counsel complained of inaction on the complaint and in April 2010, an initial interview of the officers involved took place. In February 2011Williams was placed on administrative leave. A second round of IAD interviews took place in March 2011, and in June 2011. Nguyen was exonerated but two specifications were issued against Williams. The specification alleged that Williams had engaged in the unreasonable use of force and was untruthful during the internal affairs investigation. Trial board hearings were held in November and December 2011 and on January 18, 2012 Willams' employment with the Department was terminated.  The  termination was grieved and on June 20, 2013 Arbitrator Michael Ryan issued an award upholding the grievance. (here)

Arbitrator Ryan, observing that the case ultimately turned primarily on credibility issues, found that the City had not established that Williams had used excessive force, even if he had used a choke hold. He found several factors undermined O'Brien's credibility, i.e. his intoxication, his concern for the impact of the incident on his future employment prospects, and the absence of objective physical evidence supporting his version of events.

Arbitrator Ryan noted further that "choke holds" were not specifically prohibited by the Department's use of force policy. While finding Williams conduct aggressive, he concluded that it was warranted by the circumstances. Accordingly, he concluded that the City had establish neither that Williams had not used excessive force nor that he had been untruthful during the investigation.

The City sought to set aside the award, but the Superior Court rejected this effort. The Mass. Supreme Judicial Court granted direct review and affirmed.

The Court held first that the arbitrator had not exceeded his authority by intruding on the nondelegable powers of the police commissioner to discipline officers. It found no precedent suggesting that  nondelegable matters extended to "core matters of discipline and discharge" and that the parties agreement to arbitrate disputes concerning discipline left the issue squarely within the arbitrator's authority. It next rejected the City's claim that the award was contrary to public policy. While recognizing that public policy clearly prohibited police use of excessive force, the Court noted that, in light of the facts as found by the arbitrator, there was no violation of public policy in this case. Given the deferential standard of review of arbitration awards, the arbitrator's findings that choke holds were not specifically prohibited by the Department's policies, and his conclusion that Officer Williams use of force was reasonable in the circumstances, the Court concluded that the award must be upheld. It noted, however, that "[h]ad the city prohibited choke holds as excessive force, an arbitrator who found a choke hold reasonable would have exceeded his authority." The Court also noted that the extended delay in the Department's investigation of O'Brien's claim of excessive force undermined the City's claim that public policy compelled termination.

In a concluding section describing what it called "prospective guidance," the Court observed:

First, it is incumbent on the city to clarify its own policies with respect to excessive force and specifically choke holds if it does not wish in the future to relinquish interpretive control of that term.
***
Second, the city must investigate allegations of excessive force with substantially more alacrity than was evidenced here. Pursuant to its own existing rules, the department owes a duty, both to the public and to its own officers, to investigate allegations of excessive force thoroughly and promptly. As with the tension between a choke hold's dangerousness and the commissioner's desire to retain discretionary review of their use, it is difficult to reconcile the department's position that an officer's use of a choke hold requires termination with its protracted inaction in this case. [footnote omitted]

The Court also expressed concern about the impact of its decision, but ultimately suggested that any solution was a legislative one:

Last, we are troubled by the prospect that any use of force not explicitly prohibited by a rule of conduct is essentially unreviewable. It is difficult to fathom why we elevate the values of "expediency" and "judicial economy" so high as to eclipse the substantive rights of citizens who have no seat at the bargaining table. We recognize, of course, that public employers may or may not choose to adopt rules for the protection of the public from the excessive use of force. Without the benefit of such rules, however, arbitrators remain free to find reasonable any level of force that does not explicitly require termination. Absent legislative authority for a broader review of arbitration decisions, we are constrained in our ability to review the use of excessive force by public safety officials.


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Confirming arbitration awards - mootness, compliance, contempt


The Seventh Circuit has rejected an appeal by Hyatt Corp. from an order confirming two arbitration awards. The awards found that Hyatt supervisors had improperly performed bargaining unit work and ordered Hyatt to cease and desist from such violations of the cba. Unite Here Local 1 v. Hyatt Corp.

The Union  had sought an order confirming the two awards. Hyatt had not timely challenged the awards and argued that it had complied with the awards and that the Union was improperly seeking prospective relief. The District Court (here) found the argument unpersuasive. Distinguishing prior Seventh Circuit cases, the court found that in this case the Union had sought and received prospective relief from the arbitrators and that the Union was not seeking to bypass future arbitrations for similar future claims

The Circuit has affirmed that decision. (The oral arguments before the court can be heard here). The Court summarized the issue before it, and Hyatt's argument, as follows:

When a party asks that an award be enforced prospectively, it is typically asking the court to apply the arbitrator's holding to a later dispute that has not been submitted to arbitration. Often the specific relief requested is the entry of declaratory or injunctive relief that dictates the resolution of the new dispute in harmony with the arbitrator's prior ruling. E.g., Honeywell, supra, 522 F.2d at 1224-25. That type of relief places the court in the position of regulating the parties' conduct directly in lieu of having a second arbitrator resolve the merits of the later dispute. The prospective enforcement of arbitration awards is thus a matter that we approach with great caution, as evidenced by our decisions in Honeywell and Inland Steel Coal. See Honeywell, 522 F.2d at 1225 (noting extraordinary nature of request to prospectively enforce prior arbitration award to unarbitrated disputes); Inland Steel, 876 F.2d at 1293-94 (surveying high bars other circuits have posted to prospective enforcement); see also Consol. Coal Co. v. United Mine Workers of Am., Dist. 12, Local Union 1545, 213 F.3d 404, 406 (7th Cir. 2000) ("courts are reluctant to issue labor injunctions"); AG Commc'n Sys. Corp. v. Int'l Bhd. of Elec. Workers, Local Union No. 21, 2005 WL 731026, at *10 n.7 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 28, 2005) (noting that "AGCS has not pointed to any cases in which the Seventh Circuit has prospectively applied an arbitration award as a bar to future grievances"). Specifically, courts have expressed a concern that prospective enforcement of an arbitration award will effectively nullify the parties' agreement to resolve their disputes by way of arbitration. See Inland Steel Coal, 876 F.2d at 1296; Honeywell, 522 F.2d at 1225.
The premise of Hyatt's challenge to the district court's decision is that confirmation of the Fleischli and Kenis awards will produce that very result, in that confirmation invites the union to bring future disputes under section 56 [of the cba] directly to the court by way of a contempt petition, such that the court will be required to pass on such fact-intensive (and industry-specific) questions as whether there was an emergency justifying hotel managers in performing bargaining-unit work in particular instances—questions of the sort that normally would and should be resolved by an arbitrator. ...

The Court noted however, that the Union's request for relief in this case was "more modest." Union counsel agreed that any future claimed violations must first be submitted to an arbitrator for resolution. Only after an arbitrator had addressed the particular grievance and made necessary fact findings would the union institute contempt proceedings. In light of this concession the Court found its prior decisions distinguishable. Accordingly it found no bar to confirmation of the arbitration awards.

The Court also rejected Hyatt's claim that the dispute was moot. Hyatt asserted that it had not challenged the awards and once the applicable period to do so expired they were final and binding. The Court observed, however, that there remained a number of pending grievances between the parties concerning the interpretation and application of the cba provision restricting supervisory employees from performing bargaining unit work except in emergencies and the existence of these disputes "demonstrates that the parties remain at odds as to what section 56 means and whether Hyatt is complying with the section." The earlier awards are relevant, concluded the court, in that they address what constitutes an emergency and also explicitly require compliance with the contract by means of a cease and desist provision. Confirmation of these awards would give them "teeth" by exposing Hyatt to the possibility of contempt if it did not comply in circumstances sufficiently similar to the resolved by the two arbitrators.

Finding no error on the part of the District Court, and none of the policy concerns it had identified in earlier cases, the Circuit affirmed the lower court's decision.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Does administrative time off to vote apply to participation in caucuses?

That was the issue before Arbitrator Shyman Das in a case involving the US Postal Service and its three major unions.

The USPS Employee and Labor Relations Manual (ELM) provides:

519.321 Policy

...postal employees  ... who desire to vote or register in any election or in any referendum on a civic matter in their community are excused for a reasonable time for that purpose on a day they are scheduled for work.

The issue before Arbitrator Das was whether this provision applied to local party caucuses during which registered voters express their preference for a candidate to receive their party's nomination for President of the United States.  The particular dispute arose in connection with a Democratic caucus held in Nevada during the 2016 campaign. The Postal Service denied the request of an employee for paid time off to participate.

At the arbitration, USPS asserted that caucuses differ significantly from state level elections run by state governments. A caucus, they argued, was unlike a traditional election in that it required a participant to stay for the duration of the cause and could involve multiple rounds of voting. It also claimed that it had a consistent policy of not granting administrative leave for caucuses.

Rejecting the position of the Postal Service, Arbitrator Das concluded that the language was broad enough to encompass party caucuses. He noted:

The issue in this case is whether the policy expressed in 519.321 and the provision for paid leave therein extends to participation in local party caucuses in which registered voters express their preference for a candidate to receive the party's nomination for President of the United States. The results of such caucuses play a direct role in the selection of delegates who ultimately determine the party's nominee. Participation in such caucuses constitutes "voting" in an "election" and equates to voting in a primary secret ballot election in terms of an employee's "exercise [of] their voting rights." From the standpoint of the policy expressed in 519.321 there is no meaningful basis for distinguishing between voting in a Presidential nomination caucus and in a Presidential primary election for which administrative leave is granted in accordance with the provisions of 519.32.
[footnote omitted]

Arbitrator Das also rejected the Service's assertion of a consistent practice of denying administrative leave for caucuses. He noted that two letters from headquarters to the field articulated that position, but one related to the dispute that was the subject of the grievance, and a second was issued prior to the 2012 election when the Democrats did not hold caucuses. He also noted that in the 2008 election two grievances protesting the denial of administrative leave for caucus were settled on a non-citable basis. The Unions also pointed to two prior regional awards supporting their position which, while not binding, arguably provided guidance for this dispute. In light of all of this, Arbitrator Das concluded that the record was insufficient to support the existence of "any sort of practice or of a consistent policy  known to and acquiesced in by the Unions."

Arbitrator Das' award can be found here.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Politics, police, progressive discipline and just cause

Two officers of the DeFuniak Springs Police department, Officer Richard Boblitt and Sergeant Anthony Kaiser, claimed they were dismissed in retaliation for having supported the Department  Chief's opponent in a municipal election.

The two had been employed by the Department for 17 and 4 years respectively. Both were instrumental in bringing the PBA into the Department in 2010.

The Chief was up for reelection in April 2015. On March 25, 2015 the PBA endorsed the Chief's opponent. On April 2, 2015 several Department employees published a letter in a local newspaper questioning the PBA's endorsement of the Chief's opponent. Also on that date one of the officers who signed the letter filed a complaint against Boblitt and Kaiser alleging racial harassment. An Internal Affairs investigation was initiated on April 8, and the two were notified of the investigation on April 13. The election was held on April 14, and the incumbent Chief prevailed.

On June 2, 2015 the Department notified Boblitt and Kaiser that their employment was being terminated, Boblitt for allegedly having racially harassed the complaining officer and Kaiser for failing to take corrective action. Both grieved their termination and the dispute was submitted to arbitrator Jeanne Charles Wood for resolution.

Largely based on her credibility resolutions and her evaluation of the evidence against the grievants, Arbitrator Wood found the termination of the two not supported by just cause. Regarding the Union's claim that that the terminations were part of a "conspiracy" relating to the reelection of the Chief, and the City's claim that the terminations were compelled by its obligations under Title VII, the Arbitrator noted:

So, the question remains: Why would [the complaining officer] file the complaint when he did? The Union contends that it was part of a conspiracy relating to the election of Chief Weeks whose opponent was supported by the Union. I make no findings regarding this theory. It is, however, concluded that based on the totality of the circumstances present here, Boblitt's comments were not so severe or pervasive too alter the terms and conditions of [the complaining officer's] employment. That being the case, the City has failed to prove that Boblitt engaged in unlawful racial harassment in violation of Title VII. It follows then that Kaiser, was not negligent in failing to report or take corrective action in connection with racially discriminatory harassment in violation of Title VII.

Arbitrator Woods did find, however, that certain conduct of the grievants was contrary to Department policy, even if not severe enough to constitute unlawful harassment. Observing that police officers are held to a higher standard than other employees, and that "use of potentially racially offensive language and clearly inappropriate name calling in reference to a co-worker's national origin is serious enough to warrant a suspension." Reducing the terminations to five day suspensions, Arbitrator Wood noted:

Progressive discipline is an element of the just cause doctrine. The rationale for using a progressive discipline system is that both the employer and the employee "benefit when an employee can be rehabilitated and retained as a productive member of the work force. ..." [footnote omitted]

Finding no evidence that grievants' conduct could not be corrected by discipline less than termination, and also finding some evidence of disparate treatment, Arbitrator Wood ordered that grievants be reinstated subject to the five day suspensions.

Arbitrator Wood's award can be found here.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Letter of Reprimand and recording of classes didn't violate university professor's academic freedom

Arbitrator Thomas W. Young issued an award in a dispute between the University of Central Florida and one of its professors. The grievant had been employed by the University for 15 years without discipline in his record. At some point, the University conducted an investigation of a series of incidents involving grievant and his students. The investigation was conducted by a team including the University's Assistant Director EOAA, Title IX Coordinator, The Director of Compliance and Ethics, and a Senior Compliance Analyst. That investigation culminated in a report, finding that while grievant's conduct did not constitute sexual harassment under applicable law and policies, grievant "has a long standing pattern of hostility towards women and ... he lacks the ability to conduct himself with civility and professionalism in the classroom and the office."

In response to the report, the Chair of grievant's Department issued a Letter of Reprimand. The letter incorporated ten incidents expressed in the report and admonished grievant to avoid certain behaviors in the future. These behaviors included ceasing any stories or anecdotes which suggested to students that they cannot report complaints about him to the University, a prohibition on profanity directed at students, sexist language in the classroom and discriminatory behavior in the classroom or office.  The Letter also advised grievant that his classes would be recorded and reviewed for the Summer and Fall terms.

A grievance was filed over the Letter and related restrictions. Among the professor's claims in the grievance process was an assertion that the University's action restricted "the spirit of intellectual exchange in the classroom" and violated his academic freedom as guaranteed by the cba. That agreement provided:


Academic freedom is the freedom to teach, both in and outside the classroom, to conduct research, and to publish the results of that research. Consistent with the exercise of academic responsibility, employees shall have freedom to present and discuss their own academic subjects, frankly and forthrightly, without fear of censorship, and to select instructional materials and determine grades in accordance with the University policies. Objective and skillful exposition of such subject matter, including the acknowledgment of a variety of scholarly opinions, is the duty of every such employee. Faculty are also free to address any matter of institutional policy or action. As individuals, employees are free to express their opinions to the larger community on any matter of social, political economic, or other public interest, without institutional discipline or restraint due to the content of those messages. Unless specifically authorized by the administration, employees’ opinions do not reflect the policies or official positions of the University of Central Florida.

 Grievant maintained that the conditions set forth in the Letter of Reprimand and the decision to record his lectures limited his ability to freely debate and discuss since he did not know how the video of his teaching would be used or who would be viewing it.

Arbitrator Young rejected these claims. Concerning the restrictions contained in the Letter he concluded:

There is nothing in the 6 admonitions, or anywhere else in the Letter of Reprimand, that would require Grievant to alter course content or restrict "the spirit of intellectual exchange in the classroom." Specifically, there is no record evidence that the Letter of Reprimand required or even suggested that Grievant stop teaching his classes using the George Carlin Pacifica monologue. To the contrary, testimony from Beckman at hearing is instructive on this point. Beckman was asked, "[A]t any time, through this document [Letter of Reprimand] do you direct any faculty member to actually alter course content in terms of the delivery of their academic instruction?" Beckman responded:

In my five years as chair I have never once requested a faculty member change course content, change course delivery, change what chapters they’re assigning in a book, what they’re not assigning in a book; . . .

Rather than alter course content, the record instead establishes that the admonitions address Grievant's use of profanity and vulgarity and discriminatory treatment directed at students in his classroom. The Investigative Report establishes that the referenced profanity, vulgarity and discriminatory treatment were not germane to his course material therefore not protected pursuant to section 5.2 of the CBA.

Concerning the requirement that his classes be recorded, Arbitrator Young noted that Grievant did not object to random observation of his classroom and concluded that failed to explain why monitoring by video would chill "the opportunity for open discourse, whereas monitoring by a human being would not."

The Arbitrator found the restrictions contained in the Reprimand were narrowly tailored to prevent a breach of grievant's academic freedom rights and determined that the recording of classes was not imposed to alter course content but simply to ensure compliance with the restrictions contained in the Letter of Reprimand.

Arbitrator Young's award can be found here.
 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Arbitrator overturns termination of Miami police officer for invocation of Fifth Amendment rights

Arbitrator Donald Spero has issued an award in a dispute between The city of Miami and the Miami Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #20.

Grievant was employed as a police officer for approximately nine years at the time of his termination. Prior to his employment with the police department, grievant had been employed at a PCS Metro store. In October of 2007 Grievant was working at the PCS store when it was robbed and a manager of the store was shot and killed during the course of the robbery.

In December of 2012 the Miami police received a tip implicating grievant in the robbery. In February 2013 Grievant was called in for an interview with a homicide detective concerning the robbery. While the issue was contested, Arbitrator Spero found that grievant invoked his Fifth Amendment rights and left the interview. Grievant was assigned to Relieved of Duty (ROD) status and was required to remain at home, while continuing to be paid, from 8 to 4 every workday.

On April 27, 2016 the City terminated grievant's employment. The City  articulated two reasons for the termination. The first was grievant's refusal to answer questions in the February 2013 interview. The second alleged several failures of grievant to comply with the ROD status. The matter was grieved and submitted to Arbitrator Spero for resolution.

Arbitrator Spero described the first issue as :

 whether the grievant was protected by the Fifth Amendment and by "Garrity" rights from answering questions propounded to him during a police department inquiry on February 11, 2013.

Answering the question in the affirmative, Arbitrator Spero noted that grievant's lawyer in the criminal case advised the City that grievant would not give a statement unless he was given Garrity rights. The Arbitrator concluded:

[Grievant] was entitled to decline to answer the City's inquiries without being afforded Garrity rights. Through his attorney he offered to do so. If he declined to respond after being afforded Garrity rights he would have been subject to discipline. The City in its judgment determined that it wanted to preserve the rights to prosecute [Grievant] Thus by preserving its opportunity to prosecute based on his statement it abandoned its right to inquire.

Arbitrator Spero rejected the City's argument that grievant had waived his Fifth Amendment rights when he initially took his oath as a new police officer essentially swearing to uphold and defend the law and to faithful perform all of his duties as a place officer. That oath did not expressly waive any rights, and adopting the city's position would mean that no officer had any Fifth Amendment rights.

On the issue of of grievant's failure to adhere to the ROD restrictions, however, the arbitrator found that the City had established one of its claims, justifying "severe" discipline. Accordingly Arbitrator Spero ordered grievant's reinstatement but denied him back pay for his time off.

According to news reports, When Miami fires cops, they usually get their jobs back — even if they’re murder suspects, the City will seek to overturn the award.






Sunday, June 4, 2017

Law Enforcement: Untruthfulness, reinstatement and Brady issues

Post reinstatement Brady issues for law enforcement officers terminated for claimed dishonesty

Several recent cases involve this issue. A news report describes a lawsuit filed by Clay County MN Deputy Ryan Carey seeking to have his name removed from the County's Brady list. Deputy who Clay County once tried to fire sues in hopes of returning to patrol. Deputy Carey had been dismissed by the Clay County Sheriffs Department in July 2012. The notice of termination listed a number of alleged offenses, including one of "Lying while under Garrity/Tennessen Warning."

Arbitrator James A. Lundberg issued an award rejecting most of  the claimed violations. Concerning the charge that grievant had lied, the arbitrator concluded:

The statements made ...  about text messages were inaccurate but there is no reason to believe that [the] Deputy ... was lying to the investigators. ... The evidence of dishonesty regarding the text message is insufficient. The evidence supporting the claim that grievant lied about whether he apologized to Lt. Morrow for himself or the group and whether he mentioned alcohol as a factoring the conduct on June 10, 2012 is also insufficient. ... The employer did not have just cause to discipline the grievant for dishonesty.

Deputy Carey was reinstated but, according to the news report, he has been removed from patrol duty because his name remains on a Brady list, restricting his ability to testify in court. He has been assigned instead to a courthouse security position. Deputy Carey's suit seeks to have the Brady designation dropped and to have the county barred from refusing to consider him for other positions.

A similar restriction has been imposed by the  San Antonio police department on an officer reinstated following a grievance.  The officer was placed on "indefinite suspension" (i.e. dismissed) after it was discovered that his report of a drug stop was not entirely accurate. The officer's actions at the scene were captured on the Department's COBAN system. While conducting drug interdiction, the officer stopped a vehicle. He had previously observed several suspicious packages being received by the driver. The officer observed two bags of marijuana between the driver seat and the door. During a conversation with the passenger of the vehicle, the passenger admitted that she also had a bag of marijuana, and removed it from her bra. The officer elected to not arrest the passenger, and his report of the incident claimed that he saw three bags between the driver seat and the door. The driver was arrested. Subsequent review of the COBAN video by the prosecutor's office raised a question about the accuracy of the  report and the Department conducted an investigation. As a result of that investigation the officer was placed on indefinite suspension for being "untruthful in his written report concerning where the narcotics were discovered and who had possession of the narcotics."

The case was presented to Arbitrator Don B. Hays who concluded that:

Although obligated by oath and professional position to tell the truth, on this occasion appellant acted and/or spoke untruthfully on many of the subjects that  he knew, or reasonably should have known were of material interest to both the district attorney, the city's investigators and to us.

Nevertheless, Arbitrator Hays found sufficient mitigating factors, including an absence of any improper motive for grievant's actions, to warrant reinstatement. Arbitrator Hays' award can be found here.

According to news reports (SAPD officer accused of looking the other way on narcotics arrest gets termination overturned) the officer has been returned to the force but the District Attorney has placed the officer on a Brady disclosure list and the Department has indicated that his assignments going forward will be limited "to an administrative position that will not be affected by his past disciplinary record."

A third situation also involves a Brady designation and a post reinstatement law suit but it is unclear how much the Brady issues relates to the lawsuit. A King County, WA Deputy was dismissed for alleged dishonesty in continuing to receive supplemental pay for a position she no longer held. The County maintained that the Deputy knew or should have known that receipt of the supplemental pay was improper and failed to take steps have it stopped. Because the Sheriff viewed this as a matter of honesty the office notified the prosecutors office that the Deputy was subject to Brady list disclosure.

Arbitrator David Stiteler sustained the grievance in part. His findings on the dishonesty issue are somewhat ambiguous but he did find that in light of evidence of disparity treatment and management failures in connection with its own handling if the overpayment issue, discharge was too severe a penalty. He found just cause for discipline but not for discharge and ordered the grievant's reinstatement. His award can be found here. Subsequent to the award, grievant claimed that she was "shuffled" into several undesirable jobs before she retired prematurely. Ex-deputy sues, accuses King County sheriff of discriminating against female officers. She has sued the County alleging discrimination and retaliation.

Not waiting for reinstatement, the City of Pittsfield, MA has filed suit contesting the arbitrator ordered reinstatement of a police officer dismissed for, inter alia, untruthfulness and falsifying records in connection with a shoplifting arrest. Pittsfield fights arbiter's decision to reinstate fired police officer. Arbitrator Michael Stutz concluded (here) that the officer's "intentional inaccuracy violated [his] obligation to be absolutely truthful." Finding that three words in the officer's report were "untrue, intentionally misleading, and cause for discipline, but less than intentionally false" he concluded that there was just cause for discipline, but not for dismissal.  Arbitrator Stutz converted the termination to a three day suspension. The City's suit contends that the reinstatement is contrary to public policy by allowing an untruthful officer to remain employed with the department.

Similar issues are discussed in earlier posts: