An elementary public school classroom assistant was properly terminated for workplace drug abuse despite her 23 years of unblemished service and an arbitrator’s award reinstating her subject to various conditions because, a Pennsylvania appellate court has held, the award ran afoul of a “well-defined documented public policy of protecting children in school from the damages of illicit drugs and drug use.” The court vacated the award. In March 2001, the Grievant was found unconscious in the school’s restroom as a result of a drug overdose and was subsequently fired. The Grievant’s union took her case to arbitration, claiming the employer lacked “just cause” for the firing because her conduct did not amount to “immorality” under the Commonwealth’s Public School Code. The arbitrator sustained the grievance with conditions. However, applying Philadelphia Housing Authority, the Commonwealth Court concluded that, “the Arbitrator’s award of reinstatement, even with the conditions imposed, would violate the public policy of this Commonwealth.” The Grievant’s immediate reinstatement to the classroom while she attempted rehabilitation “eviscerated” the employer’s ability to enforce the dominant public policy. Given the lengthy history of litigation in this case, a request for State Supreme Court review could occur.

Read more

Post By (955 Posts)