Did the Arbitrator's Reinstatement of An Employee Violate Public Policy As She Had Been Fired for Negligence of Duty ?
In American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees v. Department of Central Management Services, 173 Ill. 2d 299, 307, 671 N.E.2d 668, 219 Ill. Dec. 501 (1996) (DuBose), the supreme court held that the arbitrator's reinstatement of an employee violated public policy.
DuBose, a caseworker for the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), was fired because she falsified a report about three children to whose case she had been assigned and failed for years to submit case plans for the children.
An arbitrator reinstated her. DuBose, 173 Ill. 2d at 301-02.
In overturning the reinstatement, the supreme court first ruled that the case involved an "explicit public policy" (DuBose, 173 Ill. 2d at 307) embodied in a wide array of statutes and judicial decisions that charged state agencies including DCFS with enforcing the state's "strong interest in protecting children when the potential for abuse or neglect exists." DuBose, 173 Ill. 2d at 312.
The court discerned a settled policy "against DCFS's employment of individuals whose dishonesty and neglect could seriously undermine the welfare, safety, and protection of minors." DuBose, 173 Ill. 2d at 316. Even if the reinstatement did not violate any explicit legal command, it contravened the law's implicit assumption that someone as demonstrably unfit for her duties as was DuBose will not be hired. DuBose, 173 Ill. 2d at 320-21.