The Third Circuit affirmed an arbitration award under the Labor Management Relations Act (“LMRA”) as the decision reached by the arbitrator comported with the collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) between the parties. Washington Hospital (“WH”) employed Deborah Holden, an LPN, before terminating her employment pursuant to the CBA’s absenteeism policy. Holden’s union filed a grievance protesting Holden’s discharge. An arbitrator decided that the termination was improper and reinstated Holden, because WH failed to follow contractually agreed upon discipline procedures. The arbitrator made this decision despite noting that Holden’s ten absences in a 12-month time period would be sufficient grounds on which to terminate an employee. WH sought to vacate the award, but the district court upheld the award.

On appeal, WH argued that the court abused its discretion by denying WH’s request for discovery based on remarks by Holden that put her honesty at issue. However, the court found that Holden’s testimony was not fraudulent, and further, that Holden’s testimony was “immaterial” to the arbitration decision. Instead, the court upheld the district court’s decision because WH did not follow the CBA’s procedures, specifically—WH failed to give two warning notices before terminating Holden. Washington Hosp. v. SEIU Health Care Inc. Penn., Case No. 14-3951 (3d Cir. June 12, 2015).

This post written by Matthew Burrows, a law clerk at Carlton Fields Jorden Burt in Washington, DC.

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