Nolan | Perroni, PC and NEPBA recently won an arbitration decision upholding significant past agreements governing sick time abuse investigations. NP Attorney Gary Nolan represented the Union.
The arbitrator ruled that several actions by the Sheriff that led to this case should cease and desist. As a result of the arbitrator’s ruling, the Worcester County Sheriff:
• Will no longer be able to hold sick time meetings where there is no actual suspicion of abuse.
• May not hold sick time meetings based solely on an employee’s use of more than 40-hours of sick time.
• Will no longer be able to hold sick time meetings based on an employee’s pattern of sick time use where an employee has used 40-hours or less sick time and has provided proper documentation where applicable.
• Will no longer be able to issue baseless discipline to employees as a “placeholder to memorialize a meeting” where no finding of fault or rule transgression occurred. The arbitrator held that such discipline, as was issued here, is “simply not sustainable as a matter of equity and sound practice.” The employer was ordered to cease and desist issuing discipline in such instances.
• Will no longer be able to ignore the parties 2014 Settlement Agreement which requires the Sheriff to inform employees before any such meeting that they are in fact suspected of sick time abuse, and to also explain the reasons why abuse is suspected.
• The Sheriff had argued that they were not bound by this agreement, and also claimed, both in its grievance denial and through witnesses, that they did give such notice to employees. However, it is clear that the arbitrator did not credit the testimony of the Sheriff’s witnesses, as he found specifically that “The Employer violated the contract by not informing officers that the sick leave meetings conducted by AS Trainor following the sick leave audit conducted by AS Rives were sick time abuse investigations conducted pursuant to Article 17, Section 5.”