The Union grieved the terminations but did not pursue the disputes to arbitration. Instead, it brought an action seeking to enforce the Board of Arbitration awards, claiming that the Department had failed to comply with them. The US District Court, in opinions here and here, granted the Union's request and confirmed the awards. The Court concluded that the Chief's letters "sought the very condition, lack of certification, that forms the basis for its argument that it cannot comply with the arbitral awards and reinstate the two officers." The Court also noted that the Chief's repeated references in the letters to the termination of the two officers for just cause "sharply conflict with the conclusions of the Board, which found that neither ... had been terminated for just cause."
The Fourth Circuit has now reversed. Relying in part on decisions of the Seventh and Third Circuits, the Court concluded:
Like the employers in Chrysler Motors and United Food, WMATA relied on independent grounds that were never before the arbitrators when they terminated [the] Officers ... for a second time. The Maryland Commission's denial of the Officers' request for recertification created a new and independent basis for deciding that [they] could no longer serve as MTPD officers. Firing a police officer for a disciplinary infraction is distinct from firing an officer for failing to obtain recertification. And as in Chrysler Motors and United Food, the basis for the second termination was never before the arbitrators. Nothing in the record suggests that the Board of Arbitration considered, or was even aware of the possibility, that the Maryland Commission would deny recertification. We therefore hold that WMATA's decision to terminate the Officers for a second time, following the Maryland Commission's denial of recertification, did not violate the earlier arbitration awards
The Court noted that it was not concluding that the second terminations were for just cause. That decision, it noted, was properly one for an arbitrator to make. It held only that the evidence failed to establish that WMATA's actions "exceeded the bounds of permissible behavior under the arbitration awards."
The opinion of the Fourth Circuit can be found here.