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Court Upholds Arbitration Award That Does Not “Depart from The Essence” of The Collective Bargaining Agreement

In the case of Cleveland Fire Fighters Assn., Local 93 v. Cleveland, 2022-Ohio-824, the Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals reinstated an arbitration award finding that the employer’s disciplinary sanctions against an employee were not in violation of the collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”).

Here, the arbitrator found that, although some of the disciplinary sanctions against the employee were unjustified, an official reprimand was proper. In response, the union argued that the award exceeded the arbitrator’s powers because the employer failed to prove just cause for any discipline as required by the CBA. The employer countered by arguing that the union failed to show that the arbitrator exceeded the arbitrator’s powers. The Court agreed with the employer.

In support of its decision to reinstate the arbitration award, the Court explained that an arbitrator’s authority is derived from the CBA and that an arbitrator’s award may be vacated only if the arbitrator exceeded his powers in crafting the award — i.e., if the award “departs from the essence” of the CBA. The Court went on to explain that an award “departs from the essence” of the CBA if “(1) the award conflicts with the express terms of the [CBA], and/or (2) the award is without rational support or cannot be rationally derived from the terms of the [CBA].” 2022-Ohio-824 at ¶ 24. Accordingly, the Court concluded that the arbitrator’s award did not “depart from the essence” of the CBA because the award did not conflict with the express terms of the CBA and was rationally derived from the CBA’s discipline guide.

To read this case, click here.

Authors: Matthew John Markling and the McGown & Markling Team.

Note: This blog entry does not constitute – nor does it contain – legal advice. Legal jurisprudence is like the always-changing Midwestern weather. As a result, this single blog entry cannot substitute for consultation with a McGown & Markling attorney. If legal advice is needed with respect to a specific factual situation, please feel free to contact a McGown & Markling attorney.



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