Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ninth Circuit rejects claim union must prove absence of just cause

            The Ninth Circuit, reversing the district court, refused to set aside two different arbitration awards reinstating employees.
            A majority of the court found the grievances involved “classic examples of arbitrable disputes” and saw “no reason to depart from the standard rule of deference.”
The dissenting judge, however, would have affirmed the district court in one of the two cases.
            The contract provided that “the arbitrator shall have no authority to modify or alter the discipline imposed by the [employer] unless it is established that there was not just cause for the discipline.” The dissenting judge determined that one of the arbitrators had interpreted the language, albeit incorrectly, and the award was thus entitled to deference. The second arbitrator, however, “ignored [the language] in favor of his own preferred approach…” Finding that the union had not established the absence of just cause, the dissenting judge would have affirmed the lower court’s decision vacating the award.
            The court’s decision can be found here. The district court opinion can be found here

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