DCFS Employee Fired for Failure to Prepare Service Plans for Children - Arbitration Case
In American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees v. Department of Central Management Services, 173 Ill. 2d 299, 307, 671 N.E.2d 668, 673-74, 219 Ill. Dec. 501 (1996) (hereinafter AFSCME II), a Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) employee, Vera DuBose, stated in a written progress report that in February 1990 she had seen three children involved in a case the employee was assigned to and they were "doing fine." AFSCME II, 173 Ill. 2d at 301, 671 N.E.2d at 671.
DuBose thereafter transferred to another position and her replacement conducted a follow-up on the children in August 1990, during which the replacement learned the children had died during a January 1990 fire. AFSCME II, 173 Ill. 2d at 301, 671 N.E.2d at 671.
In October 1991, DCFS notified DuBose she would be discharged within three days for falsification of the progress report and failing to prepare service plans for the children for three years. AFSCME II, 173 Ill. 2d at 302, 671 N.E.2d at 671.
AFSCME filed a grievance on DuBose's behalf and argued to the arbitrator that DCFS failed to impose discipline in a timely manner and that DCFS did not have just cause to discharge DuBose. AFSCME II, 173 Ill. 2d at 302, 671 N.E.2d at 671.
The arbitrator sustained the grievance and reinstated Dubose because:
(1) DCFS breached the parties' bargaining agreement by not timely disciplining DuBose and;
(2) the failure to timely impose discipline prevented the arbitrator from addressing the merits. AFSCME II, 173 Ill. 2d at 302, 671 N.E.2d at 671.
DCFS did not reinstate Dubose, but instead applied to the circuit court seeking a vacatur of the arbitrator's award. AFSCME II, 173 Ill. 2d at 302, 671 N.E.2d at 671.
The circuit court agreed with DCFS's position that reinstatement violated the public policy established in the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act (see 325 ILCS 5/1 through 11.7 (West 2006)) and remanded for a decision on the merits. AFSCME II, 173 Ill. 2d at 302-03, 671 N.E.2d at 671.
On remand, the arbitrator denied the grievance and the circuit court then denied AFSCME's petition to vacate the subsequent arbitration award and confirmed the initial award. AFSCME II, 173 Ill. 2d at 303, 671 N.E.2d at 671-72.
The appellate court reversed the circuit court after concluding the time provisions in the Agreement could not be relaxed in favor of public policy. AFSCME II, 173 Ill. 2d at 303, 671 N.E.2d at 672.
The supreme court reversed the appellate court and found "there is a well-defined public policy in favor of truthful and accurate DCFS reporting and that the arbitral award in this case violates that policy." AFSCME II, 173 Ill. 2d at 308, 671 N.E.2d at 674.