Do Arbitrators Have the Authority to Modify Disciplinary Action Against Employees ?
In Office of the Attorney General v. Council 13, American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO, 577 Pa. 257, 844 A.2d 1217 (2004), an employee of the Office of Attorney General was specifically found by the arbitrator to have committed unbecoming conduct in the nature of use of alcohol while off-duty and operation of an official vehicle while off-duty and while using alcohol.
The arbitrator then found that although the employee committed the misconduct alleged, there was not just cause for termination because of three mitigating circumstances: the employee's long service with the employer, his subsequent rehabilitation and employer's imposition of dissimilar discipline under similar circumstances.
The Court reversed the decision of the arbitrator.
In reversing the Commonwealth Court, the Supreme Court rejected this Court's conclusion that once the arbitrator found that the employee had committed the conduct alleged, just cause for discharge was established and the arbitrator did not have the authority to modify the discipline.
The Supreme Court also held that "we do not find that the award, reinstating an officer without back pay for off-duty misconduct has required the governmental employer to bargain away control over core powers that are essential to the proper discharge of the functions for which the governmental entity is responsible. City of Easton." Id. at 273, 844 A.2d at 1227.