Pocket Guide to Just Cause: Discipline and Discharge Arbitration

$20.00

By Bonnie Bogue and Katherine Thomson
1st edition, 2010

Description

Cause or just cause for discipline or discharge is a requirement in most collective bargaining contracts and public sector personnel or civil service rules. But how is cause defined? How do hearing officers and arbitrators assess whether discipline or discharge should be upheld? How should representatives for employers, unions, or employees prepare and present a disciplinary case?

The answers are in this Guide, which provides:

  • A description of the “tests” that arbitrators apply to decide whether an employer had just cause for discipline or discharge;
  • An explanation of how statutory law and collective bargaining agreements may limit the arbitrator’s traditional discretion;
  • Advice to practitioners on how to evaluate a case, decide whether to settle a case, and if not, prepare for a hearing;
  • Information on common remedies with an explanation of how statutory rights affect remedial awards;
  • A description of the various statutory schemes for disciplinary hearings that govern the different sectors of public employment in California.

The guide is generally applicable to both arbitrations and civil service disciplinary hearings. Designed for use by labor relations representatives, union representatives, and lawyers, it provides a breadth and depth of coverage not available elsewhere at such an affordable price.

Table of Contents

Contents

I. Introduction 1
    A. “Just Cause” — The Origin of the Principle 1
        1. “Just Cause” — The Definition 1
            Appellate review standard. 2
            De novo review standard. 2
        2. Employment At Will vs. Negotiated Just Cause 3
    B. Merit Systems vs. Negotiated Just Cause 4
        Local government. 6
        State. 6
        Schools and colleges. 7
        Universities. 7
    C. Non-Negotiated Disciplinary Appeal Procedures 7
        1. State Civil Service Employees 8
        2. California State University Employees 9
        3. University of California Employees 11
            Staff employees. 11
            Academic employees. 12
        4. Community College Employees 13
            Academic employees. 13
            Classified employees. 14
        5. K-12 Public School District Employees 16
            Permanent certificated employees. 17
            Probationary certificated employees. 18
        6. Local Government Employees 18
        7. Trial Court Employees 20
II. Just Cause — The Tests 21
    A. Elements of Just Cause 21
    B. Factors Arbitrators Use to Determine Proof of Misconduct 22
        1. Reasonableness of the Rule or Standard of Conduct 23
        2. Notice to the Employee of the Rule 23
        3. Notice of the Disciplinary Consequences 24
        4. Notice of the Charges 24
        5. Timely Action on the Charges 25
        6. Adequate and Fair Investigation 25
        7. Opportunity to Respond to the Charges 26
        8. Proof of the Charged Misconduct 26
        9. Equal Treatment for Similar Misconduct 27
        10. Double Jeopardy 28
    C. Factors Arbitrators Use to Determine Just Cause for the Level of Discipline 28
        1. Progressive Discipline 29
        2. Seriousness of the Misconduct 29
        3. Similar Penalty for Similar Misconduct 30
        4. Length of Service 30
        5. Prior Disciplinary Record 31
        6. The Employer’s Degree of Fault 31
        7. Other Mitigating or Aggravating Circumstances 32
        8. Post-Discharge Misconduct 32
    D. Negotiated Limits on Arbitral Discretion 33
        1. Limits on Arbitrator-Ordered Remedies 33
        2. No-Fault Attendance Policies 33
        3. Limits on Evaluating Employee Performance 34
        4. Last Chance Agreements 34
    E . External Law — Effect on the Arbitrator’s Discretion 35
        1. Authority to Apply External Law 36
        2. External Law Limits on Arbitrator’s Discretion 37
III. Before Arbitration 40
    A. Predisciplinary Due Process 40
    B. Filing the Grievance 43
    C. Processing the Grievance 44
    D. How to Avoid Taking the Grievance to Arbitration 45
        1. Settling the Case 45
        2. Mediating the Grievance 46
        3. Last-Chance Agreements 47
    E . Deciding Whether to Arbitrate 48
        1. The Union’s Decision to Arbitrate 48
            Evaluating strengths and weaknesses. 48
            Effect on the bargaining unit. 49
            Duty of fair representation. 49
        2. The Employer’s Decision to Arbitrate 50
            Evaluating strengths and weaknesses. 51
    F. Costs of Arbitration 51
    G . Preparing for Arbitration 52
        1. Developing a Theory of the Case 52
        2. Witnesses and Documentary Evidence 53
        3. Surprise and After-Acquired Evidence 54
IV. The Hearing 56
    A. Hearing Procedures 56
        1. Advocates 57
        2. The Record 57
        3. Statement of the Issue 57
        4. Opening Statements 57
        5. Stipulation 58
        6. Witnesses 58
        7. Documentary Evidence 58
    B. The Employer’s Case 59
    C. The Employee’s Defense 59
    D. Evidence 60
        1. Relevanc 61
        2. Foundation 61
        3. Hearsay 61
        4. Opinions and Speculation 62
        5. Leading Questions 63
        6. Offers of Settlement 63
        7. Privileged Communications 63
        8. Privacy and Medical and Personnel Files 64
    E. Closing Arguments 65
    F. Award or Decision 65
V. Remedies in Discipline and Discharge Cases 66
    A. Types of Remedies Arbitrators Award 67
        1. Rescind Discipline and Reinstate With Full Back Pay 67
        2. Rescind Discipline and Reinstate With Partial Back Pay 68
        3. Rescind Discipline and Reinstate With No Back Pay 69
        4. Award Back Pay Without Reinstatement 69
        5. Reinstate With Conditions or Last-Chance Agreement 70
        6. Reinstate With Disciplinary Transfer or Demotion 70
    B. Award of Interest, Costs, and Damages 71
        1. Interest on Back Pay 71
        2. Damages 72
        3. Attorney’s Fees and Costs 72
    C. The Effect of External Law on Remedies 73
        1. Procedural Due Process Rights 73
        2. Unlawful Harassment 74
        3. Reasonable Accommodation — Disability 75
        4. Reasonable Accommodation — Religion 75
        5. Family and Medical Leave Act 76
        6. Drug and Alcohol Issues 77
    D. Arbitrator’s Post-Award Jurisdiction over Remedy 77
VI. Evidentiary and Remedy Issues for Certain Conduct 79
    A. Drug and Alcohol Offenses 79
    B. Workplace Violence 82
    C. Sexual Harassment 83
    D. Absenteeism 84
    E. Discrimination or Reprisal for Union Activity 86
    F. Insubordination 87
    G. Off-Duty Misconduct 88
    H. Dishonesty, Theft, and Falsification 88
    I. Refusal to Cooperate in Investigation or Arbitration 89
        1. Union Representation 90
        2. Self-Incrimination Defense 90
VII. Table of Cases 92
VIII. Bibliography 96
IX. Index 99