Sunday, February 17, 2013

New York High Court: Positive drug test doesn't compel termination

The New York Court of Appeals has rejected an effort by the Shenendowa Central School District Board of Education to vacate an arbitration award reinstating a bus driver who failed a drug test. Grievant, a ten year employee, had tested positive for marijuana after a random drug test. The arbitrator concluded that termination was too severe a penalty, and ordered grievant reinstated without back pay, subject to an evaluation by a substance abuse professional and a negative drug test. 

The Court initially noted that the parties' cba did not require a penalty of termination in these circumstances, and observed that the District did not have a zero tolerance policy.

The Court also rejected a suggestion that the award violated public policy, concluding:

 The ... determination that reinstatement with conditions was the appropriate penalty did not violate public policy (see Eastern Associated Coal Corp. v Mine Workers, 531 US 57 [2000]). "That reasonable minds might disagree over what the proper penalty should have been does not provide a basis for vacating the arbitral award or refashioning  the penalty" (City School Dist. of the City of N.Y. v McGraham, 17 NY3d 917, 920 [2011]).

 The Court's opinion, In the Matter of the Arbitration between Shenendowa Central School District Board of Education and Civil Service Employees Association, Inc., Local 100 AFSCME, can be found here.

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