Jersey City Medical Center suing to vacate arbitration that allowed fired employee to return

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The Jersey City Medical Center is suing to vacate an arbitration that allowed an employee who was fired for driving a JCMC vehicle without a license to return to work.

Photo via rwjbh.org.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

The complaint, filed in Hudson County Superior Court on January 22nd, says that Arthur Muse was a mental health worker for the JCMC, a position that was part of a collective bargaining agreement between the hospital and District 1199J – the employees’ labor union.

As part of his job duties, Muse transported patients that he was treating for mental illness to doctor’s appointments, court appearances, and support services using a JCMC vehicle.

According to the court filing, his driver’s license was suspended between August 15th, 2019 and November 13th, 2019 for operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.

As a result, Muse was fired, and 1199J filed a grievance on January 3rd, 2020. The JCMC presented four witnesses and 18 documents to defend their position, while the union did not present either and Muse also did not testify in his defense, the lawsuit says.

On December 1st, 2020, the arbitrator’s decision allowed Muse to return to work after a one-month suspension without pay, making him eligible for back pay.

” … If you are driving a JCMC motor vehicle without a valid driver’s license, you will be subject to disciplinary action, which is not identified … I can’t accept the fact that the Employer’s witnesses all believe that the action of Mr. Muse should lead to termination, even though their own policy does not require that,” the decision says.

The JCMC is objecting to the decision since they cited several violations of the Human Resources Policy Rules of Behavior, claiming the arbitrator “failed to provide any analysis whatsoever” as to why that shouldn’t be grounds for termination.

Through the suit, they also assert that the arbitrator exceeded his authority and that the award is unenforceable since “it was procured by undue means.”