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Arbitration – Labor & Employment – CBA Violation – Persona Non Grata – Remedy – Damages

Arbitration – Labor & Employment – CBA Violation – Persona Non Grata – Remedy – Damages

UGL UNICCO v. Local Lodge # 2541. (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-02-0724, 5 pp.) (Terrence W. Boyle, J.) E.D.N.C.

Holding: Plaintiff’s unionized workforce performs maintenance services at facilities owned by other entities. A union worker was banned from the facility where he worked without cause. Since plaintiff could not convince the facility owner to allow the union worker to return, and since plaintiff had no other jobs available to the worker, the arbitrator acted within his authority when he fashioned a damages remedy equal to two weeks’ pay for every year the worker had worked for plaintiff.

Defendants’ motion to enforce the arbitration is granted. Defendants’ motion for attorney’s fees is denied.

The parties’ collective bargaining agreement does not address the persona-non-grata situation at issue here. The CBA provides that workers may be fired for cause or laid off in order of seniority. Plaintiff admits the worker was not fired for cause, and the arbitrator determined that he was not laid off because his job was available and reinstatement based on seniority was not an option.

The arbitrator correctly concluded that the worker was terminated in violation of the CBA. The arbitrator’s recognition that plaintiff acted in good faith and made every effort to find work for the worker does not cure the breach.

Plaintiff argues nonetheless that the CBA did not give the arbitrator authority to award severance pay.

The arbitrator’s award is more properly regarded as damages for breach of contract than as severance pay. The CBA does not limit the remedy that the arbitrator may award for breach of contract. As such, the arbitrator properly determined an award that drew its essence from the CBA.

This case presented the complications of a third-party persona-non-grata situation that was not specifically covered in the CBA as well as a negotiation history concerning severance pay. Thus, although the worker was plainly terminated in violation of the CBA and the arbitrator permissibly awarded damages, the challenge to the arbitrator’s authority was not baseless.

Motions granted in part, denied in part.


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